Post endorsements: In Boca Raton, Singer, O’Rourke, Haynie

Downtown Boca Raton is erupting with high-rises, planned before the Great Recession and rising now that the economy has brightened. Their sudden presence has alarmed many residents who worry that the long-sleepy area is fast becoming too dense and congested.

The anxiety has stirred strong interest in Tuesday’s elections for two council seats and mayor. Voting for all three positions is citywide and all are three-year terms.

Scott Singer

For Council Seat A, incumbent Scott Singer is challenged by Patricia Dervishi, a retired flight attendant and real estate agent. Singer, a Harvard and Georgetown-educated attorney, has opposed overdevelopment and backs sensible ideas for improving downtown traffic, including using Dixie Highway as a downtown bypass and making Federal Highway conducive for pedestrians.

He says he is the first council member to hold regular meetings with constituents. “I’ve also pushed economic development, which is critical to our community because there have to be high-paying jobs to maintain low taxes and our high quality of services,” he told the Post Editorial Board.

Singer, 40, is chairman of Boca’s Community Redevelopment Agency, serves on the state attorney’s Sober Homes Task Force and the Florida League of Cities’ committee on growth management and economic affairs, and is an alternate to the Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization, among other memberships.

Dervishi, 70, says “this whole election is about … citizens versus developers” and that the city should “put on the back burner any further development” until issues such as traffic are addressed. She has no civic memberships nor experience in office, and far less to contribute than Singer.

Andrea Levine O’Rourke

The decision is much harder for Council Seat B, where three strong candidates are facing off: Emily Gentile, a retired executive business consultant; Andrea Levine O’Rourke, a communications and design consultant; and Andy Thomson, a litigation attorney. All three boast long lists of involvement with civic organizations.

O’Rourke, 69, a longtime Boca resident, calls herself “the voice of the residents.” She says traffic, congestion and overdevelopment “are ruining Boca Raton’s unique quality of life” and that she seeks “a pedestrian-friendly city with open green spaces for residents to enjoy.”

A former chair of the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner Associations, an umbrella of associations “from the beach to the western communities,” O’Rourke also co-founded and heads the Golden Triangle Neighborhood Association, representing residents east and northeast of Mizner Park. She has been an editor of BocaWatch, an online newsletter started by now-mayoral candidate Alfred Zucaro.

Gentile, 65, cites her experience in corporate boardrooms, having helped Fortune 500 companies become more customer-friendly. She says that’s good preparation for moving the city forward and working well with citizens. She has chaired Boca’s Business Improvement District Steering Committee and been vice chair of the Downtown Advisory Committee.

Thomson, 34, says his legal specialty, dispute resolution, would be a great asset for a city divided between “anti-development groups, pro-development groups, there’s east, there’s west, there’s rich, there’s poor,” adding, “I am the one person seeking this job who can bring people together.”

O’Rourke differs from her opponents in having backed a successful ballot initiative to turn the city-owned “Wildflower property,” planned for a restaurant, into a park along the Intracoastal. Thomson says the initiative was worded confusingly. Gentile says the result means the loss of millions in future lease payments.

We believe that O’Rourke stands out for her commitment to human-scale development and creating public places that draw people to them to enjoy.

Susan Haynie

Finally, Mayor Susan Haynie, running for reelection, is opposed by Zucaro, an attorney who runs the BocaWatch website, which regularly accuses the mayor and city council — or, as he calls them, the “social and political elite” — of selling out the town to developers.

Zucaro, 67, is a former West Palm Beach city commissioner who moved to Boca after a remarriage and now plays the role of indignant outsider, railing against traffic and overdevelopment, but offering few ideas other than to “slow things down just a bit” and “manage it better.” He belongs to no civic boards.

Haynie, 61, began working for Boca Raton in 1974 as a traffic analyst. She was a council member from 2000 to 2006 and deputy mayor from 2010 until 2014, when she was elected mayor. She is president of the Florida League of Cities, chair of the Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization and belongs to a host of other groups, from the city’s Planning and Zoning Board to the Elks.

She is pushing efforts to use Dixie Highway to absorb southbound through-traffic downtown and make Federal Highway more pedestrian-friendly. She gives assurances that developers won’t build as intensely as they want. Whereas Zucaro paints the current building boom as an unmitigated nightmare, Haynie gives a more positive view, noting that people are moving downtown – happily – and making the area more vibrant.

Haynie has played a leadership role in the I-95 interchange under construction at Spanish River Boulevard and the planning of a 20th Street college district, a unified campus for municipal buildings and a Waterfront Master Plan.

The choice is between a dedicated worker and a flamethrower. The answer is obvious.

We endorse Singer, O’Rourke and Haynie.

Palm Beach Post endorsements for the March 14 municipal elections will be posted online throughout this week on a city by city basis. They will be published in total in the Sunday, March 12, print edition.

Post endorsements: In Lake Worth, Polizzi, Hardy

Two city commission races will be decided Tuesday in Lake Worth in citywide races.

For the District 2 seat, three-term incumbent Christopher McVoy is opposed by Omari Jamal-Hatchett Hardy and William Joseph. Joseph, a private investigator, didn’t show up for an interview with the Post Editorial Board.

McVoy, 59, a research hydrologist and ecologist with a PhD from Cornell, has been a commission gadfly, frequently skeptical of the panel’s majority and often on the losing end of 3-2 votes. He says that because the “business-as-usual approach” is well represented by “the more conservative core” of the commission, he sees his role as voicing the concerns of his constituency, a mix of Hispanics, Haitians and progressive whites, with an emphasis on energy issues (Lake Worth has its own electric utility).

It’s healthy to have opposing views on a decision-making body, but McVoy has become so predictably contrary that he has lost effectiveness. That’s the argument that his chief opponent, Hardy, is making — and it’s a good one.

Omari Hardy

Hardy, 27, is a middle school civics teacher with notable rhetorical gifts. Hardy grew up in Fort Lauderdale, then went to the University of Miami in Coral Gables. After those cities, Lake Worth was a shock: on morning runs to the beach, Hardy saw “government and its failures: blight, drug use and prostitution — very public.”

As a result, Hardy makes public safety his top priority: he’ll fight for 10 to 15 more deputies, although that will take city money. He’ll also keep his eye on fixing Lake Worth’s crumbling streets.

McVoy opposed last year’s $40 million bond issue to fix city infrastructure. It won with 69 percent of the vote, putting the commissioner far from the city mainstream.

Hardy is less interested in brandishing his individualism than in getting things done. “What we need,” he says, “is a commissioner who’s willing to build consensus around things that we know to be problems.”

The proliferation of sober homes is on the mind of every candidate — maybe none more than Maryann Polizzi, who is running for the District 4 seat against Herman Robinson and Ellie Whittey. Whittey skipped an interview with the Post Editorial Board.

Maryann Polizzi

Polizzi, 59, a consultant fundraiser, former actress and an avid volunteer, has lived in the city for 36 years. “I actually saw the need in helping kids after school,” she said, “and I thought, ‘I can actually make a difference in the city.’”

Her key issues are sober homes, crime and homelessness. Her idea is to get well-run sober homes registered with the Florida Association of Recovery Residences and to work with the state attorney’s task force to shut the bad ones down.

Robinson, 71, former owner of the Lake Avenue Chocolate Company, has been a member of the city Historic Resources Preservation Board, the Planning and Zoning Board, the Community Relations Board and started his local neighborhood association. Now retired, his top priorities are to “ensure a vibrant downtown, create a ‘lifestyle’ atmosphere, support sustainable growth.’’

Either Polizzi or Robinson would be an asset on the commission. They share many of the same ideas. Polizzi, though, conveys more urgency about the city’s problems and seems ready to attack them with more energy.

For the Lake Worth City Commission, the Post endorses Hardy and Polizzi.

Palm Beach Post endorsements for the March 14 municipal elections will be posted online throughout this week on a city by city basis. They will be published in total in the Sunday, March 12, print edition.

Post endorsements: In Lake Park, O’Rourke, Michaud

The town of Lake Park either finally has the momentum to begin expanding its tax base and improving its infrastructure, or it is still hampered by too much crime and too little community participation.

Either way, this small north county town on the Intracoastal Waterway will have a reconfigured town commission to address the issues after the March 14 election.

Michael O’Rourke

In the mayor’s race, the Post recommends Town Commissioner Michael O’Rourke to replace the retiring James DuBois. O’Rourke, 62, takes a more “glass-half full” view of the Lake Park as having “emerged from a financial crisis the last four years.”

For example, he said the town is already working on securing financing for infrastructure improvements along Lake Shore Drive and started a U.S. 1 corridor project that involves first upgrading the area around Lake Park Harbor Marina to grow tax revenue.

“We still have to address public safety, but our overall crime rate has come down over the last four years,” O’Rourke said, adding that a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office task force has been targeting budding gang activity. “We now have a perception problem that we need to deal with as much as anything.”

On that front, he said the town has tapped the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council to do a marketing study for the Community Redevelopment Agency.

O’Rourke’s opponent in the race, Steve Hockman, declined an interview with the Post Editorial Board.

Roger Michaud

There are four candidates seeking to fill the remaining two years of O’Rourke’s three-year commission term. The Post recommends town native Roger D. Michaud for the seat. Michaud, 41, prioritizes public participation by re-building relationships between the town government and the community. “There is a sense among residents that the town is closed off, which creates a trust issue,” he said. “Restoring a sense of community will help with crime and public safety issues.”

Michaud’s opponents for the seat all share similar views. But Hollis Langer, 52, would also use her marketing experience and media connections to better promote the town’s assets — such as its marina and arts district. Charlemagne Metayer, 52, said public safety is the top issue and pledged to work closely with the PBSO to fight crime. And Lawrence S. Malanga, 39, wants to preserve and promote the history and “small town charm” of Lake Park. Malanga, who is also a native, agreed with Michaud about bringing family and community activities into the parks.

But Michaud, who is black, will bring a much-needed, long-delayed perspective to a commission that needs to better represent the town’s diverse population.

Palm Beach Post endorsements for the March 14 municipal elections will be posted online throughout this week on a city by city basis. They will be published in total in the Sunday, March 12, print edition.

Post endorsements: In Palm Beach Gardens, Marciano, Lane and Litt

In Tuesday’s election, three city council seats will be filled by newcomers because of term limits that voters overwhelmingly passed in 2014.

Most of the candidates point to the same major challenges facing the city: properly handling the 50 acres for economic development the city is getting from the Avenir project; dealing with mounting traffic, ensuring transparency in city government; and grappling with the negatives of the coming Brightline high-speed rail and sober homes.

Mark Marciano

Seeking the Group 1 seat are optometrist Mark Marciano and Michael Paolercio, co-founder of Michael Anthony Jewelers, who says his business experience would help draw big corporations and their white-collar jobs. Paolercio, 65, is a director on the property owner association board of Frenchmen’s Reserve, where he’s had a home since 2007, and of the Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens synagogue.

Marciano, 46, has deeper and wider civic experience. A resident for 17 years, he has served on the city’s budget oversight committee since 2012, for two years as its chair. His knowledge of the town is extensive, having lived on the east side as well as in PGA National and participating in the Youth Athletic Association,  local Chambers of Commerce and PGA Corridor Association.

Matthew Lane

In Group 3, attorney Matthew Lane is facing homemaker Kathryn Gettinger and Quicken Loans co-founder Ronald Berman. Berman, 60, who ran unsuccessfully for State Senate District 30 last year, seems to be pursuing the city council seat as his consolation prize. Gettinger, 45, is running a quixotic campaign, refusing to send postcards out of concern for the environment.

Lane, however, is going full-bore with a well-funded campaign and detailed proposals for a slew of city problems. At 61, the Emory and Northwestern-trained lawyer (Phi Beta Kappa, he quickly tells you) belongs to a host of civic organizations and has the support of former mayors. He says that with a city council full of rookies, “we need some some know-how from Day 1.” We agree.

Four candidates are vying for the Group 5 seat: Kevin Easton, 62, a Pratt and Whitney retiree who ran unsuccessfully for council in 2011, briefly ran in 2016, and co-founded the successful drive for term limits; George Wicker, 73, who spent 32 years in strategic planning, finance, law and executive management at Lockheed Martin before retiring; Joe Russo, 27, the son of the Gardens’ longtime mayor of the same name; and Rachelle Litt, 61, a pharmacist at Jupiter Medical Center.

Rachelle Litt

Of the four, Russo and Litt are the more impressive candidates. Despite his youth and boyish appearance, Russo has an encyclopedic knowledge of the issues and smart ideas to address them. He is the best-funded of the candidates, his contributors including Realtors, investment companies and Florida CFO Jeff Atwater. Russo started and runs @Palm Beach Tech Association to promote next-generation economic growth.

Russo and Litt largely agree on the big issues, such as the need to actively seek a regional solution to traffic pressures. But Litt places a heavier emphasis on preserving green space and improving recreation facilities. A 30-year resident, she and her physician husband raised three children in the city. We believe that her life experience — as well as her close knowledge of the healthcare sector, a growing part of the town’s economy — give her an edge.

For Palm Beach Gardens, we endorse Marciano, Lane and Litt.

Palm Beach Post endorsements for the March 14 municipal elections will be posted online throughout this week on a city by city basis. They will be published in total in the Sunday, March 12, print edition.

Post endorsements: In Boynton Beach, keep McCray

The Boynton Beach City Commission needs to find an answer to the long-running problems in the Heart of Boynton area.

They’ve done some things for sure: Ocean Breeze West — a neighborhood of 21 single-family homes built by Habitat for Humanity, the faith-based Community Development Corp. and the CRA — and the Family Dollar store, which opened in October and is the first commercial development in that area in about 45 years, are two good examples.

But there’s not much beyond that. Three other projects in the blighted area either stalled or fell apart recently — The Cottage District, Ocean Breeze East and MLK Jr. South.

The blighted area, which reflects poorly on the city, needs businesses, jobs and affordable housing. It also needs more police presence on the streets.

Mack McCray

Vice Mayor Mack McCray says he has momentum and the focus to continue tackling these issues, and the Post is endorsing him for another term in District 2 to do just that. The Riverwalk Plaza and 500 Ocean projects show that downtown Boynton Beach is starting to move, McCray said, adding that he is finally working with a cohesive commission whose members are not focused solely on their own agendas. “We all agree attracting business development to the Heart of Boynton is a frustration,” he said.

The commission’s new control of the Community Redevelopment Agency, which many saw as a power grab, leaves them with little excuse to make clear progress.

McCray also rightly voted for the temporary moratorium on new sober home operations in Boynton Beach. Though chided by some for the controversial move, McCray is right that the Florida Legislature needs to do more to help cities that are under siege from the scourge of illegal sober homes — and related drug overdose deaths.

McCray is being challenged for the seat by former mayor and commissioner Woodrow Hay, who is well-known in the district, and political newcomer Dr. James J. DeVoursney. Hay, 70, and DeVoursney, 55, both agree that the Heart of Boynton needs more attention. Both would get tougher with developers wanting to do projects in the CRA with taxpayer incentives.

But McCray is right that working with commission members who are already on the same page will be a plus.

District 4 Commissioner Joe Casello was returned to his seat because he did not draw a challenger.

Palm Beach Post endorsements for the March 14 municipal elections will be posted online throughout this week on a city by city basis. They will be published in total in the Sunday, March 12, print edition.

Post endorsements: In North Palm Beach, choose Bickel

Like most of the county’s smaller municipalities, the Village of North Palm Beach is going through a transition.

The North Palm Beach Golf & Country Club that is the village’s crown jewel is losing some of its luster. The old way of communicating news about issues and services is outmoded. And an “antiquated” U.S. 1 corridor is need of a more urban facelift and renewal.

Susan Bickel

North Palm Beach native Susan Bickel, who is running for the Group 2 seat, has lived in five different neighborhoods in the village, raised a family there and sat on the North Palm Beach Planning Commission for four years.

The Post endorses Bickel, 48, to replace Vice Mayor Doug Bush and maintain a “proactive” approach to village government.

Bickel says she wants to village to retain its “quaint” character, but adds that a “complete country club re-do” is long overdue. She added that before making a decision, residents need more information on the proposed narrowing of the U.S. 1 corridor from six lanes to four, and beautifying it with a new streetscape design for pedestrians and bicycles. “We’re still lacking in communicating on important issues with residents,” she said. “I want to change that.”

Bickel also wants to bolster Parks and Facilities by upgrading the village pool to reflect the strong swimming program, and improving fields for soccer so village kids don’t have to go to neighboring Palm Beach Gardens.

Stephen B. Keller, 37, is challenging Bickel for the Group 2 seat. Keller, director of operations for Storm Smart SouthEast Florida, agrees the village needs to more quickly address issues like building a new clubhouse and better, more consistent communication with residents.

He would also put more emphasis on attracting small business when adopting the master plan to redevelop the U.S. 1 corridor. “I think the business community kind of fell to the wayside in all of this,” he said, adding that three vacant spots on the Business Advisory Board need to be filled.

Both agreed that the village will be aided by incoming village manager, Andy Lukasik, who is leaving a similar post in Jupiter.

Bickel’s history and service gives her a broader knowledge of village issues that we expect will make her more effective at getting the job done.

Palm Beach Post endorsements for the March 14 municipal elections will be posted online throughout this week on a city by city basis. They will be published in total in the Sunday, March 12, print edition.

Post endorsements: In Jupiter, we recommend Klug, Posner

A year after an election where the town of Jupiter elected a new mayor for the first time in 26 years and two new councilmen, the top issue hasn’t changed: growth, and how best to manage it.

And as before, this year’s election remains focused on one specific area of the town: the Inlet Village on State Road A1A.

But there is more to be concerned with in this growing “village by the sea.” There’s finding a new town manager to replace the departing Andy Lukasik; prioritizing capital improvements with money from the penny sales tax increase; and working to mitigate the increasingly heavy traffic on Indiantown Road — especially from Central Boulevard west.

Indeed, as the vexing votes on a multi-million dollar trash-hauling contract showed, there is more than one issue of significance to which councilman must pay attention and keep their finger on the pulse of residents. After voting 3-1 to follow the recommendation of staff and award the contract to Ponte Vedra-based Advanced Disposal, the council weeks later reversed itself in a 4-1 vote and decided to stay with Waste Management. Residents overwhelmingly wanted to stay with Waste Management, despite the fact that it charges $4 more per month.

Ben Klug

From the field of six candidates in Tuesday’s election, the Post once again recommends Ben Klug and Wayne Posner to wrestle with these problems with an eye toward bridging a stubborn divide in the town.

COUNCIL DISTRICT 1: Posner, 67, is seeking to retain the seat after serving out the final year of Mayor Todd Wodraska’s council term. As we said last year, Posner, a former contractor who served on the town’s Planning and Zoning Board, brings “a practical eye” that will work to keep development in scale while respecting property rights. He also opposed awarding the trash contract to Advanced Disposal from the beginning.

Wayne Posner

Posner is up against Carol Watson, whom he defeated for the seat last year; and Teri Grooms, who started the online petition to stop developer Charles Modica’s Love Street project. Both support a moratorium on development. Watson, a massage therapist and member of the town’s Beach Committee, would also support a bond referendum to buy more land, and building a senior center and veterans memorial. Grooms, 45, is a Jupiter native who wants “no more retail shops and offices on the Inlet.”

COUNCIL DISTRICT 2: Klug, a 38-year-old custom metal fabricator, brings a similar practical approach to Posner’s as to managing growth and not allowing “overdevelopment.” Like Posner, he is fine with a final Love Street plan that is smaller than the original and eliminates the troublesome land swap between the town and Modica. But it’s Klug’s desire to “represent everything Jupiter” that gives him an edge. From finding a way to improve critical police and fire-rescue radio communications on the beach to supporting the work at El Sol to helping businesses work with the town’s workforce housing ordinance.

Businessman Ron Delaney, who defeated Klug last year, is running again to keep his seat. Delaney, 53, said the council needs to slow down and mitigate development on the waterfront. “A majority of the residents don’t feel the council is listening to them,” he said, adding that he voted against the Love Street project, as promised. Political newcomer Heidi Epstein also opposed the Love Street and Suni Sands plans. Epstein, 53, said she is concerned not enough thought is being given to the “social implications” of allowing too much growth such as increased traffic.

Palm Beach Post endorsements for the March 14 municipal elections will be posted online throughout this week on a city by city basis. They will be published in total in the Sunday, March 12, print edition.

Post endorsements: In Lake Clarke Shores, Shalhoub

The entrance to the Estates of Lake Clarke Shores in the town of Lake Clarke Shores. (Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post)

Paul R. Shalhoub currently serves on the Lake Clarke Shores Code Enforcement Board, is chairman of the town’s Parks and Recreation Committee and, perhaps just as importantly, is a longtime member of the Annual BBQ Committee.

He believes he can be a more effective advocate for Lake Clarke Shores’ roughly 3,500 residents by sitting on the town council. We agree, and recommend him for the Group II seat.

Paul Shalhoub

Shalhoub, whose name is well-known in the town as his father is a longtime councilmember and currently serves as mayor, says he would like to see the council operate a bit more effectively in dealing with issues. He cites, for example, his work pushing the code enforcement board to reduce the amount of re-occurring cases coming before it. He would like to take that to the next level by seeing the council update the town’s codes and ordinances to maintain the small enclave’s beauty and charm.

The 35-year-old attorney would also work closely with other local governments on the Blue Way Trail/C-51 Canal Project “to give Lake Clarke Shores access to the water.”

“The council is typically too slow at attacking these issues,” he said. “Members need to be out there in the community working.”

Shalhoub is looking to unseat Malcolm K. Lewis, a 28-year member of the council and former mayor. Lewis did not interview with the Post Editorial Board.

Town Councilmen Gregory P. Freebold, did not draw a challenger, and was returned to the Group I seat.

Palm Beach Post endorsements for the March 14 municipal elections will be posted online throughout this week on a city by city basis. They will be published in total in the Sunday, March 12, print edition.

Christie: Just one question, President Trump, ‘Where’s the plan?’

President Donald Trump aims to reset his agenda with the American people through his first speech to a joint session of Congress tonight. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump aims to reset his agenda with the American people through his first speech to a joint session of Congress tonight. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

When President Donald J. Trump speaks to a joint session of Congress tonight to lay out his budget priorities, he hopes to reset his agenda with the American people.

It’s been a rough month or so for the new president as he’s stubbed his toe more times than he would have liked stumbling around the dimly-lit hallways of government policymaking.

This Joint Address to Congress — not technically called a State of the Union because he’s in his first year — though comes at a pivotal moment and with a crucial bottom-line question: What’s the plan, Mr. President?

To this point, there has been plenty of rhetoric (some of it caustic and divisive) and arguably ill-conceived executive orders that have certainly pleased the base of supporters who voted for him. But poll after poll has shown that these moves — and Twitter rants — haven’t galvanized a broad swath of the American people behind him. A mere 44 percent of Americans approve of the job President Trump is doing as a newly inaugurated commander-in-hief. In contrast, 48 percent of Americans say they disapprove of Trump’s performance, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted Feb. 18–22.

Again, this won’t begin change until he begins answering the big question: What’s the plan?

It’s no longer good enough to call Obamacare “a disaster” despite the facts showing otherwise. Trump now needs to show us a viable plan for repealing and replacing the beleaguered and belittled health care law. There are at least 20 million increasingly vocal and impatient Americans waiting on an answer.

And Trump’s statement before the National Governors Association on Monday that no one knew how “unbelievably complex” and complicated the nation’s heath care system is didn’t give anyone confidence that a plan is coming anytime soon.

It’s no longer good enough to say “we’re going to destroy ISIS,” also known as Islamic State. How are we going to do that without putting more military on the ground, and thus put more U.S. soldiers in harm’s way? Do Americans really have the stomach for another foray into Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or even Yemen? And for how long?

Where is the plan to deliver the promised help to the nation’s inner-cities beyond sending in U.S. troops? How will that bring the jobs and better schools that Trump promised on the campaign trail and since?

Then there’s the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Where is the plan to rebuild roads and bridges that seem to be collapsing on a weekly basis from California to Missouri to Texas to Georgia?

The time for tough talk, and incremental executive orders attempting to erase the previous president’s legacy is over. We know that President Trump can talk a good game, and can sign paperwork accompanied by specious claims of creating 70,000 jobs.

What we need to know is now is whether he can govern and push through legislation to fulfill promises to fix whatever problems ail us.

In other words, “What’s the plan, Mr. President?”

Goodman: In inaugural address, Trump comes out like a boxer, squaring off for a fight

President Donald Trump takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts, as his wife Melania holds the Bible, and with his children Barron, Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany, Friday on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Bourg/Pool Photo via AP)
President Donald Trump takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts, as his wife Melania holds the Bible, and with his children Barron, Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany, Friday on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Bourg/Pool Photo via AP)

A billionaire who has spent his lifetime enriching himself and feeding an insatiable ego began the 45th presidency of the United States by telling the American people that “this moment is your moment, this moment belongs to you.”

In his inaugural address, the newly installed President Donald J. Trump revisited the dark caricature of the United States that he depicted in campaign rally after rally: a nightmare of shuttered factories and gang-infested inner cities, of out-of-touch elites that ignore the forgotten man and woman, of a government that placates foreign countries but leaves its own southern border unprotected.

“The American carnage,” as he called it, “stops right here.” He sounded more like a guy squaring off for a fight than a statesman celebrating the peaceful passing of power and the continuance of America’s traditions of freedom.

Read Donald Trump’s inaugural speech: the full transcript

The new president did not mention that the Dow is approaching 20,000, the unemployment rate is down to 4.7 percent, average hourly wages are almost 3 percent higher than a year ago, or that we’ve had 75 straight months of job growth, a record for the modern era. These facts did not fit his narrative of a country in dire straits, desperate for a dramatic rescue.

“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land,” Trump declared. “It’s going to be only America first, America first.”

Surely Trump knows that the phrase “America First” was the name of Charles Lindbergh’s pro-German isolationist movement that preceded World War II. Just as surely, he doesn’t care.

Consistent with his campaign, Trump insisted that every decision on economics, foreign affairs and immigration will be made “to benefit American workers and their families.” That’s a worthy goal, but how will that be accomplished with a Cabinet led by billionaires who oppose environmental regulation, public schools and universal access to affordable healthcare?

“Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength,” the new president said — an assertion that must surprise the many economists who warn that protectionism is more likely to lead to countermeasures, trade wars and possible recession.

Trump invoked no history in his address. He gave no indication that he stood on the shoulders of giants. Instead, he spoke of his inauguration as the beginning of a new glorious epoch, a separation from a disappointing past. “We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams,” he said.

Although he talked about how this day, this moment, belongs to “the people,” Trump had nothing to say about how these decisions would be arrived at. There was mention of the people’s collective wisdom. No talk about the give-and-take of democratic discussion. Instead, he told Americans, “You will never be ignored again.” And, “I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.”

Trump wants us to enter a new mythos. He, the superhero who takes down the selfish elites. He, the fighter for the little guy who would be helpless without him.

“The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”

He finished by pumping his arms in the air, the gesture of a winning prizefighter.

Trump protesters gather in West Palm, just west of Mar-a-Lago