Christie: Do Palm Beach County Millennials really want micro-apartments?

Billionaire developer Jeff Greene’s seemingly abrupt decision to scrap his much-anticipated plans to build Banyan Place is doing nothing to stifle concerns about a reputation for not following through on big project ideas. (The Palm Beach Post)

Well, that was disappointing.

I’m talking about billionaire West Palm Beach developer Jeff Greene’s seemingly abrupt decision to scrap his much-anticipated plans to build a 12-story, 348-unit micro-apartment project called Banyan Place.

Yep. Greene — handing ammunition to critics who say he doesn’t follow through on big project ideas — is telling all those West Palm Beach Millennials who were looking to him for some relief from Palm Beach County’s workforce housing crisis to look elsewhere. At least for now.

“I jumped the gun,” he told the Post’s Tony Doris. “I should have done a lot more research before I went through the entire entitlement process and spent a lot of people’s time on it.”

RELATED: Plan for downtown West Palm micro apartments is scrapped

No kidding. Greene announced this project back in February, and has jumped through all the necessary zoning hoops to get final city commission approval in June.

Not that it means that much to South Florida Baby Boomers, who tend to like their space. But their kids and grandkids — read Millennials — are not thought to be as picky in that regard.

Greene says the projected rents — about $995 to $1,200 a month for 340 to 560 square feet — are just too low to make sense; especially when you add in upscale kitchens, bathrooms, and washers and dryers.

But is it possible that when it comes to space, the county’s Millennials don’t fall too far from the family tree when it comes to elbow room? Especially if you’re asking for $1,000 for what is essentially their bedroom in their parents’ home (sans mom’s home-cooking to boot)?

Greene said the projected rents for Banyan Place — about $995 to $1,200 a month for 340 to 560 square feet — were just too low to make sense; especially when you add in upscale kitchens, bathrooms, and washers and dryers.

Maybe.

But “at end of the day,” Greene told Doris, “I ran numbers. If you have a choice of a small room with no view, or a 30-story building with views of everything, (it) can’t compete” with other nearby projects about to be completed near the downtown West Palm Beach Brightline station.

“I’m stepping back now to see how they all do.”

Greene’s right about competition. The city, behind Mayor Jeri Muoio, is experiencing something of a renaissance as it seeks to make itself more attractive to Millennials. Take 312 Northwood, the new apartment complex that just opened at the corner of Dixie Highway and 23rd Street. A few weeks after the doors opened this summer, the building was already 25 percent full, with residents paying between $1,400 to $1,850 for one and two-bedroom apartments, and some apartments as high as $2,300 a month.

Developer Neil Kozokoff expects the property’s 100 units — 75 of which have views of the Intracoastal Waterway — to be fully leased by the end of the year . At that point, he’ll consider building 102 apartments on land he owns nearby.

Greene said he is moving forward with his One West Palm office/hotel/condo towers at 550 Quadrille Blvd., a two-building, 30-story project that would include the city’s biggest Class A office tower.(Contributed)

Those aren’t “micro-apartments.” But TBCG Capital Group’s five-building project on the west side of Northwood Village is planning some. The 3.5-acre tract dubbed the “anchor site” will also include offices, retail space, townhouses and apartments — including workforce housing.

Whether Greene’s decision to cut bait is just a Jeff Greene thing or a competition thing, there’s no denying that the city’s and county’s issues with affordable housing for a burgeoning young white-collar workforce is at crisis levels.

Not only can 75 percent of the county’s households not afford the median price of a single-family home, but rents north of $1,800 per month for a typical 1,100-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment have kept many young professionals from moving out of their parents’ homes.

RELATED: Editorial: Builders must continue to step forward with workforce housing

That’s why Greene’s decision, though understandable, is disappointing.

Aggressive ideas like micro-apartments are needed if West Palm Beach and other local municipalities are going to make a dent in this burgeoning crisis. In fact, West Palm Beach has staked the future of its downtown on shelved projects like Greene’s, which had the added bonus of a pedestrian passageway on its east side, connecting Banyan to Clematis Street through the courtyard of popular Subculture Coffee. That 20-foot-wide strip of land currently dead-ends, preventing any connection between the boulevard and the popular entertainment street.

Whether micro-apartments are the way to go remains to be seen. The concept seems much more of a Northern, big city phenomenon, but might work in tandem with high-speed rail, as leaders in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami believe.

Developers need to continue to step forward with fresh concepts, and cities need to continue to offer incentives for them to do so.

Here’s a suggestion: Talk to Millennials, many of whom are now well into their late 20s and 30s, and find out what they really want.

Christie: PBC school teacher may have answer to post-Hurricane Irma blues

John I. Leonard High School teacher Xi Bajipura (standing second from right) hamming it up with other shelter volunteers and residents. (Photo courtesy of Xi Bajipura)

As we continue to dig ourselves out from under about 3 million cubic yards of debris, the memories of our time with Hurricane Irma remain fresh on our minds.

A friend of mine is fond of saying that many Palm Beach County residents are still walking around in a post-Irma funk… like folks just aren’t quite themselves yet.

Easy to understand, right? I mean between the loss of power, messed up traffic lights and above-mentioned vegetation debris still piled up on many neighborhood streets, it can be hard to put Irma behind you.

RELATED: Hurricane Irma: Employees question county shelter staffing policy

For a smaller group of residents, there was also the time spent at the 15 country-run shelters. The Post, last month in the days following Irma, spoke with a handful of county employees who were none-to-happy to be “volun-told” they’d have to work in shelters before, during and after the storms.

Shelter residents at John I. Leonard High School doing stretching exercises during Hurricane Irma. (Photo courtesy of Xi Bajipura)

The Post’s story got lots of attention; much of it negative toward the county as readers felt for the county employees who obviously didn’t want to work at the shelters despite being paid double time-and-a-half to do so.

Well, that’s something that County Administrator Verdenia Baker will have to contend with going forward given that she has made it clear the new policy of requiring county employees to staff shelters will not be changing — at least for the remainder of this hurricane season.

It might surprise some, however, that there were shelter workers who actually did want to be there; helping friends, neighbors and strangers get through the storm.

To that end, Monday’s “Point of View” column from Xi Bajipura — “Pooja Patel” to her friends — was a pleasant reminder that no matter the inconvenience to our own personal lives, that we can be here for one another. That our county’s diversity is not a burden, but a blessing. And that there is more that unites us than divides us.

It’s just possible that the ESE VE instructor in the Social Sciences at John I. Leonard High School in Greenacres. her uplifting words may bring many of us out of our post-Irma daze. Let’s hope so.

Her column is worth repeating. So here it is in its entirety:

What I witnessed in the four days serving in John I. Leonard High School’s shelter stretched my heart to how deep love can swim in times of crisis.

Imagine uprooting yourself from the comforts of your home, bed and safety in the midst of a devastating hurricane not knowing if there would be a home on your return. This cracked open the window into how refugees must feel except there is no chance of returning home.

About 2,100 people of all backgrounds and ages entered the gates of John I. Leonard. There was richness in life experiences and cultures. I met beautiful families and students of mine from Pahokee, Belle Glade, Haiti, the Caribbean, Bangladesh, Iraq, Guatemala and South America. All were united under one roof in Greenacres.

Despite conditions and finite resources, evacuees offered water and food to each other and volunteers. They shared their limited blankets, pillows and air mattresses to those who came with no bedding. They helped lift elderly from the ground. They aided the disabled using the restroom in the dark.

For the first time in some time I felt that Americans were united above politics, religion, nationality and income. I could breathe in the vastness of humanity, its unlimited greatness.

Residents who sheltered at John I. Leonard High School during Hurricane Irma made their own checkerboards and game pieces to play. (Photo courtesy of Xi Bajipura)

With unconditional care, volunteers built community in the special needs and physically challenged unit. Our 19-hour volunteer shift around the clock helped us become family to our guests. We organized karaoke and Zumba classes with seniors, including a WWII veteran, amputees, and those with special needs, dementia and PTSD. We played checkers on a homemade checkerboard that one evacuee made with cardboard and Sharpie markers. Guests quickly drank so they could offer their caps and pill bottle tops for game pieces. We told stories and listened. We sent positive vibes of prayers and love to all those affected by hurricanes. One evacuee has already started planning activities and games for her next stay at the shelter.

John I. Leonard High School shelter volunteers Jim Lynch (left) and Xi Bajipura. (Photo courtesy of Xi Bajipura)

“When I first entered the shelter, I thought that I was making a big mistake. I never had a reason to stay at a shelter before. I thank God for the volunteers who made my experience at the shelter a memorable one of joy and unity during a difficult time. Let’s not forget that a few of the (horror) stories were true, but we all worked together to create an environment where God is welcomed,” said Inger Hogan, a disabled Zumba instructor who shared her passion for dance with seniors.

No matter where you come from, how much money you have, what religion you practice or what you believe in, natural disasters don’t discriminate. As humans we are all connected by natural forces that go beyond the surface. Hurricane Irma reminded us of humankind’s fragility yet beauty. I have so much gratitude for my ability to bond and serve in ways I did not know were possible.

XI BAJIPURA, GREENACRES

Amen.

Goodman: Hurricane Irma: For us, catastrophe averted. But still not much fun.

Downed trees at the beach at Delray Beach after Hurricane Irma, Sept. 11, 2017 (Palm Beach Post / Howard Goodman)

Ah, the sound of chainsaws in the morning.

Sure beats the whistle of high-speed winds all night.

We awoke this morning to a house that still had power. Which told us right away that 1) we were extraordinarily lucky, and 2) our Hurricane Irma experience was a lot less than we had braced ourselves for.

The difference was that westward shift, which we began hearing about on Saturday morning if my blur of a memory has it right. Instead of blasting her way up the east coast of Florida — which would have chewed up Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach — Irma didn’t turn north until she put Marco Island, Naples and Tampa Bay in her sights.

Instead of the direct hit we’d feared, we got pelted by outer bands of the hurricane. A lot of wind. A lot of rain. Now and then a tornado warning or an alert of high winds coming, possibly 80 or 90 mph.

It was a long weekend of staying in the house and watching TV as long as we could, thankful that WPTV-NewsChannel 5 weatherman Steve Weagle knows so much and explains so calmly.

We tried to block out the wind sounds. Scurried to our safe room — a bathroom outfitted with flashlights and snacks — when Weagle said destructive winds were heading just our way.

Amazingly, this was going on while the eye of this storm was around Naples — about 150 miles away. I’m still trying to absorb the immensity of this thing. To think that the same storm brought flooding to Miami, to Naples, to Jacksonville…

Our refuge was west of Boynton Beach, around the area of Lyons and Hypoluxo Roads. As we took a look around in our car this morning, it was obvious that Irma had treated us much better than Wilma or Jeanne. We saw downed limbs and drove through intersections missing stoplights — but there were far more trees that looked unhurt, many stoplights were working, and Publix, Winn Dixie and Walgreens stores were open and attracting customers.

We drove east to Federal Highway and then south through Boynton to downtown Delray Beach, and saw that Ellie’s 1950s Diner had lost part of her marquee. Here, power outages looked almost universal. There was a long line of cars queued up on Federal, south of Woolbright Road, but they weren’t waiting for gas. It was a McDonald’s, hot food and coffee being the important thing if you were emerging from a house that hadn’t had power for hours.

But very few roofs appeared damaged. It looked like we won’t be seeing blue tarps all over this part of the county, as we did for weeks after the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes.

Ellen and I checked our condo, which is in Hypoluxo, near the Intracoastal Waterway. We had abandoned it on Friday, spooked by the dire storm surge warnings, not sure when we’d be able to get back in. Somehow… it was perfectly fine. The building even had electricity; I couldn’t believe it. A neighbor said power had stayed on all through the storm, went out at 8 this morning, then returned around 10.

Another neighbor, who lives closer to the water, had ridden out the hurricane in his apartment to keep his eye on storm surge. He said the Intracoastal had seeped over the sea wall but gone no further.

The storm was flukey. A neighbor who lives in an opposite building had lost power early on Sunday, he thought. Or maybe Saturday. It was hard to sort everything out. At the construction site next door on our other side, there was evidence that a tornado had hit; some small, newly planted trees were lying on the ground in opposite directions from each other. Coulda been us.

We went to Ellen’s parents’ home, atop a tall condo building on Delray’s barrier island. Police were allowing only residents across the bridge, but Ellen had her father’s ID and the cop let us through. There was no electricity and, as throughout Delray, no one can use toilets or bath tubs; the city’s sewage pumping stations are without power.

Her parents, who are in their 90s and unable to take of themselves, are with their caregiver in central Florida. It’s a good thing we checked their place. The refrigerator and freezer were full of food, left behind during a frenzied evacuation. The food was starting to stink. We threw it all out.

More than 530,000 customers in Palm Beach County were lacking power at midday today — maybe 1 million people. That’s a lot of disruption. For those who aren’t reconnected for days, it will be miserable. Lots of folks in Palm Beach County are going to need help. We’ve all got to be good neighbors to each other.

Hurricane Irma: Stress leading to questions about who should be allowed in shelters

Lines form outside of Palm Beach Central high school as people wait for the storm shelter open for evacuees from Hurricane Irma in Wellington. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Things are getting tense out there. Winds are picking up, rain bands are coming through and tornado warnings are buzzing our smartphones.

And being forced to sit in a closed-in space with hundreds of folks you don’t know is not exactly ideal.

As Palm Beach County emergency management officials quickly decided how many shelters they would need, and where to care for some 16,000 Hurricane Irma refugees, local residents were making a critical call of their own.

Should I stay and shelter-in-place, or should I go to one the 13 public shelters being opened and run by hurricane relief officials?

To be sure, it was a difficult question for many of the thousands that are now in the shelters. Just as it was deciding on whether to evacuate the area, despite not being in a mandatory evacuation zone.

But such decisions are bound to produce some ill feelings. The stress of the storm is already high, and clashes over bottled water and gas lines was inevitable.

RELATED LINK: Hurricane Irma: Updates from shelters around the county; some residents are leaving

Not surprisingly, some of that stress is also spilling over into the hurricane shelters, as well.

As one Post reader put it in an email late Saturday afternoon:

Selfish.

It is hard to believe people who live in a gated community, whose homes have concrete and stucco walls, take themselves to a shelter when they are not in a evacuation zone because they are afraid

Many people were afraid, and with good reason. They may have been living in a mobile home, unstable home or on the water. Afraid is not a reason, but safety is.A couple I am thinking of did this just recently. They not only live in a fortress{ concrete stucco home) but also have hurricane shutters and a generator. Meanwhile, people are outside the shelters, sleeping in their cars unable to get in.The staff checking people in should tell people like this, who do not live in a evaculation zone to go to their safe home and let those who need shelter have it.

Adrienne Finer-Cohen, Lake Worth, Fl

While that can sound a bit harsh, she is far from the only once who shares that feeling right now.

But what do you think?

Should folks who have well-built concrete homes that are not in a flood-prone evacuation zone be allowed to take up much-needed space in a hurricane shelter, just because they are afraid?

Let me know what you think in the Comments section.

Hurricane Irma: This storm is really testing Floridians’ patience

Cars back up into Belvedere Road and Parker Avenue as drivers line up for gas at the Citgo Station in West Palm Beach Wednesday morning. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

“What’s up, Irma?”

That’s the question that most — nay, every — Palm Beach County resident must be asking after awakening to news that the “monster” tropical storm is now expected to side-step to the West coast.

For six days, we’ve been buying every drop of bottled water in sight.

For six days, we’ve waited in hours-long, miles-long lines to pay 50 cents more per gallon for gasoline. (And mind you, I’ve been known to skip stations for a two-cent difference.)

For six days, we’ve been putting up metal and plywood shutters, and moving all kinds of grimy outdoor items into our already crowded garages. (Yep; sorry Allstate, the cars are on their own.)

For six days, we’ve rightly heeded the pleas of our governor and local emergency officials, and the Post’s Kimberly Miller to evacuate flood-prone areas. (In fact, we now know that a massive, potentially “catastrophic” storm like you will cause major evacuation problems on our roadways.)

RELATED LINK: Post coverage of Hurricane Irma; updates

Those of us who’ve decided to shelter-in-place are hunkered down. We’re ready for you, Irma. But you’re really testing our patience here.

You were supposed to begin knocking on our door today, but no. You’ve decided — with a wink and nod — to make us wait another day.

That’s another day of finding games and other entertainment to keep the kids occupied. By the way, what do you do when they’ve reached the highest level of Destiny 2, Resident Evil or Madden ’18? Will a game of Monopoly really be enough?

The kids are literally asking, “Is it here yet? Is it here yet?… ”

“No! … She’ll be here to tomorrow!”

That’s another day of trying to eat all of the perishable food in the refrigerator so that those ribs we barbecued over the Labor Day weekend don’t eventually go bad. And that, of course, will leave us with only high-calorie snacks. (You are really bad for diets, Irma.)

It goes without saying, but that’s also another day of exploring the liquor cabinet to … ahem, “catalogue” all of the rums we’ve collected over the years. (It is likely the collection will have to be replenished.)

DORAL, Fla. — Florida Gov. Rick Scott gives an update to the media regarding Hurricane Irma. It was still too early to know where the direct impact of the hurricane would take place but the state of Florida was in the area of possible landfall. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

We’ve been teased before, of course.

Just last year, Irma’s little brother Matthew laid waste to Haiti as a Category 5, and promised a direct hit on Palm Beach County, leading to warnings from Gov. Rick Scott: “This storm will kill you!”

Hurricane Matthew made landfall to the north of us as a Category 1. More folks were probably injured taking down shutters than from the storm’s wind and rain.

But we know better than to ignore the warnings, no matter what.

There is still a great deal of danger from hurricane-, and even tropical storm-force winds likely hitting Palm Beach County.

RELATED LINK: PBC officials: Don’t be lulled into complacency by Irma’s western turn

So we pay close attention to the storm updates. We tune in to the governor’s regular briefings as he traverses the state coordinating with local officials, and making sure that Floridians don’t get complacent.

We won’t.

We’re waiting, Irma. But you’re testing our patience.

Hurricane Irma: Scott says Florida needs 17,000 volunteers for relief effort

DORAL, Fla — Florida Governor Rick Scott gives an update to the media regarding Hurricane Irma. It’s still too early to know where the direct impact of the hurricane will take place but the state of Florida is in the area of possible landfall. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott continued his plea today for more volunteers in preparation for, and in aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

“We’ve had 6,800 volunteers sign up in the past 24 hours,” Scott said during a 10 a.m. televised update from an emergency operations center in Hialeah. He said most of those have been government employees.

“That’s great, but we need more,” he added. “We going to need 17,000 volunteers statewide.”

Even that may not be enough.

Hurricane Irma is still a Category 5 storm packing winds of 175 mph, the most powerful to hit the Atlantic Ocean outside of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. And it is expected to be the most powerful to make landfall in Florida since Hurricane Andrew 25 years go.

Irma is also a large storm that, if it follows a track of heading down the center of the state, has the potential to cause up to half-a-trillion dollars in damage and leave thousands of Florida resident without homes.

RELATED LINK: Hurricane Irma: Plywood lines, Gov. visit ahead of storm; Here’s the latest

“The storm is bigger, stronger and faster than Hurricane Andrew,” said Scott, who is scheduled to visit the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center today and give a noon briefing. “We have to understand that this is serious and not take chances.”

Scott said the non-profit Volunteer Florida has 43 teams on stand-by and the American Red Cross is arriving with 1,000 volunteers and several tractor trailers. A Red Cross disaster relief operation is setting up in Orlando, and the Salvation Army and Florida Baptist Convention have kitchens on stand-by to distribute food.

But with the prospect of widespread damage from a direct hit from Hurricane Irma — and Houston’s devastation from Hurricane Harvey still fresh in Floridians’ minds — Scott has been sounding the volunteer alarm for days.

 

Scott’s pleas are made necessary because relief resources are stretched thin in the wake of Harvey. That goes for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well.

DORAL, Fla — (L-R), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Gov. Rick Scott discuss the need to FEMa aid with the media about Hurricane Irma. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio reminded that FEMA is scheduled to run out of money on Friday. The agency is hoping to get a $7.5 billion infusion just to deal with Harvey alone; but Nelson and Rubio are pushing their Senate colleagues to add more for Florida to the disaster relief bill because “even with the Harvey supplemental aid package, FEMA is likely to run out of funds before the end of September.”

And Nelson took the Senate floor today to urge the immediate passage of a $15 billion disaster aid package needed to fund FEMA past Friday.

“I urge the Senate, I implore the Senate, I beg the Senate to pass this package,” Nelson said on the Senate floor. “FEMA is stretched, and, of all things, FEMA runs out of money unless we act by tomorrow.”

“I left Florida in the middle of the night to come back to make sure that it has my stamp of imprimatur on this legislation,” he continued, “And I’m very glad that the majority leader has agreed to double the amount – basically $7.5 billion, for FEMA and another $7.5 billion for CDBG, Community Development Block Grants, both of which would be for natural disasters.”

“I have emailed yesterday to the administrator of FEMA, Brock Long,” Nelson added, “People are trying to get out, but they’re stuck on the roads, and now they’re running out of gasoline … An urgent plea that I made yesterday that I would make to FEMA again, that we get gasoline into the state of Florida.”

Scott has already deployed 1,000 members of the Florida National Guard to begin logistical and planning work ahead of Irma’s landfall. The governor mobilized another 3,000 this morning. The National Guard also has 1,000 high-water vehicles, 17 boats, 13 helicopters and more than 700 generators on stand-by. More can be brought in from other states, if necessary.

However, Scott insists that people who can help will be needed for everything from food and water distribution to checking on residents to clean up to helping with the disabled in shelters and more.

He urged folks to visit www.volunteerflorida.org to sign up for volunteering opportunities.

“It’s not too late,” Scott said. “We know that volunteers can make a huge difference.”

Goodman: On opposing Trump on bigotry, Marco Rubio sets an example

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks to reporters as he walks toward the Senate floor on July 18 (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

I’m usually quick to slam Marco Rubio for a lack of spine, so it’s only fair to applaud him when he shows some.

On Wednesday, he became the first Republican member of the Senate to slam President Donald Trump, blazing on Twitter:

-@marcorubio: “The organizers of events which inspired & led to #charlottesvilleterroristattack are 100% to blame for a number of reasons. 1/6

 Rubio: “They are adherents of an evil ideology which argues certain people are inferior because of race, ethnicity or nation of origin. 2/6”

 Rubio: “When entire movement built on anger & hatred towards people different than you,it justifies & ultimately leads to violence against them 3/6”

 Rubio: “These groups today use SAME symbols & same arguments of #Nazi & #KKK, groups responsible for some of worst crimes against humanity ever 4/6”

 Rubio: “Mr. President,you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame.They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain 5/6”

 Rubio: “The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win. We can not allow this old evil to be resurrected 6/6”

I particularly like Number 3.

To watch an American president all but side with armed, torch-bearing punks shouting Klan and neo-Nazi slogans was sickening. For many people in Palm Beach County, the home of his oh-so-precious Mar-a-Lago, this is personal.

This county has one of the densest Jewish populations in America. It’s been home for generations to many black people. It’s an important destination for immigrants from Haiti, Guatemala and other countries poor in political tolerance.

The Palm Beach Post editorial board warned about Donald Trump’s softness on bigotry as early as March 2016, during the primaries when there was still plenty of time for Republicans to repudiate the man and derail his candidacy. They didn’t.

And now this great nation is headed by a president who refuses to stand up for the most fundamental of American principles.

It is a time for everyone else — particularly other leaders — to do the standing up.

Be like Marco.

Munoz: Teens taking fewer summer jobs, but don’t call them lazy

Palm Beach Skate Zone employee Heather Shapiro, 18, of Loxahatchee, carries ice cream to a freezer on Saturday, May 25, 2013. Shapiro said this was her first job. (Thomas Cordy/The Palm Beach Post)

By Valeria Munoz

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Fewer teens are working summer jobs. Although it’s easy to assume that teens are lounging by the pool rather than filling out applications, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Teens are finding other ways to achieve personal growth. The majority are sacrificing their summer plans to volunteer, intern, or further their academic studies.

According to a report from CBS News, the number of teens in the workforce has decreased, with only 36% of teens working in 2016. Manager of Cannoli Kitchen’s east location in Boca Raton, Connie Smith agrees. Compared with last year, she has noticed fewer teenagers in this summer’s interviews.

It’s clear to me though, that, despite not serving tables or ringing up customers’ purchases, they still have their priorities straight.

In fact, the CBS report shows teens and parents see the value in pursuing higher education; 42% of American teens are enrolled in summer classes. Schools have become more competitive and students are taking note and stepping up their game.

University of Central Florida student, Kelly Furbish,18, is a perfect example. She is spending the summer getting a head start on college and becoming familiar with the campus before the flood of fall students. She says that attending classes with a smaller roster has its benefits.

“The professors are more personal which makes it easier to learn and get help, along with having a manageable course load. In the summer, you have the option to take two to three classes,” she said.

While some would rather hit the books, a lucky few manages to snag a job prior to summer.

One of those teens is Lauren Pires, 17, a Cannoli Kitchen employee, who thought acquiring a job was a productive use of her time. Not only has she accumulated work experience, but she’s learned to deal with people of different personalities.

“I wasn’t particularly interested in any sports or clubs at school,” Pires said. “But I wanted to spend my time wisely on an activity that would help me in the future and not sit around at home,”

Thus, it’s not that teens don’t recognize the importance of a summer job. More often than not, businesses have already filled spots with older workers or even teens themselves, during the school year to pay for the many costs connected to public school particularly senior year.

From honor society fees to sport team dues to prom, teens have to find a way to fund for these events sooner rather than later. This, in turn, forces businesses to be more selective of who they hire during the summer.

Whether they book a 9-to-5 shift or school becomes their full-time job, teens deserve more credit. They are certainly thinking ahead and past their summer bucket lists.

Valeria Munoz, a recent graduate of Boca Raton High School, is majoring in journalism in college and is a summer intern at the Palm Beach Post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christie: Boynton Beach girl’s death reminder of Internet dangers for kids

Ki’ari Pope died July 31 after drinking boiling water out of a staw on a dare. The Florida Department of Children and Families is investigating the 8-year-old Boynton Beach girl’s death. (Photo courtesy of the family)

Kids can and will do the darnedest, most dangerous things.

These things can make us laugh at how silly they are. Until a child is hurt, that is.

And then there is an almost immediate reaction that “well, it wouldn’t happen with my child.”

Sure it can. Especially in this day and age of Internet accessibility, and kids — even those in elementary school — carrying smartphones.

Tell me. Why wouldn’t your inquisitive little third-grader — the one with the short attention span — use some of that available data on your family plan to tool around the Internet looking for, well, stuff?

And let’s be honest. It’s not like they even need the Internet. Kids provide plenty of heart-stopping incidents sans the World Wide Web.

I’ve often told the story of how our daughter, Taylor, nearly scared my wife and I to death when she was about three years old.

Taylor was painfully curious, precocious; gifted with a single dimple and an infectious laugh. We would always catch her getting into things she shouldn’t be, and then laughing it off with her afterward.

There was this one time, however, we didn’t laugh. And neither did she. I was finishing up cutting the lawn one Saturday afternoon when I saw Klemie standing at the kitchen window frantically waving. I stopped and turned off the lawnmower to hear her yelling, “Get in here! Hurry!”

I ran into the front of the house, back to the kitchen area to see Rachel, our then 6-year-old, to my right sitting on the family room floor crying. Klemie was to my left in the kitchen seemingly alternating between anger and fear. Then I looked down to see Taylor standing and screaming. Her new gold turtleneck shirt was in tatters. Tatters that looked to be stuck to various parts of her torso.

Klemie calmed down enough to say, “your daughter” had gotten into the kitchen knick-knack drawer and proceeded to open and play with a tube of super glue. The quick-drying glue had soaked through the shirt in some areas, adhering to her body. One area was on her wrist, which Taylor didn’t like. So she tried to pull it off, tearing her skin, and letting out a blood-curdling wail that brought her mom running. Klemie began cutting the shirt off with some scissors where she could, but that still left the patches of material stuck to Taylor’s body.

That’s where I come in. After asking a couple of what now seem like dumb questions, we called Poison Control. After explaining our emergency, the lady calmly asked whether Taylor had ingested the glue. She hadn’t. She then asked whether we had a bottle of Wesson oil. We did. She said to “calmly” place Taylor in the sink, pour the oil all over her torso and slowly rub the areas where the patches of shirt were stuck to her until they came loose.

Taylor calmed down, Rachel calmed down. Mom calmed down. Crisis ended. And we had yet another Taylor “adventure” to tell.

It would be hard to find a parent that doesn’t have a story like this; some more frightening than others.

Kids get into, and try things they shouldn’t all the time. No family is immune to this, no matter your income or education level. Because kids will be kids. That’s why they need our protection.

I was reminded of all this by the sad, tragic death of Ki’ari Pope, the 8-year-old Boynton Beach girl who died last week from breathing complications stemming from a stupid and dangerous game. The game: drinking boiling water out of a straw on a dare.

RELATED: Boynton Beach girl, 8, dead after dare to drink boiling water

The Florida Department of Children and Families’ Critical Incident Rapid Response Team is looking into the March incident. They said at least nine other allegations of either abuse or neglect have somehow involved the girl since her birth. But family members said Ki’ari and her siblings were never removed from the home, even after the boiling water incident.

You could get on your high horse and say, “well, that explains it… this would never happen to my child.” You could say that the kids should have known better. You could say that an adult should have been watching the kids.

Fine. And DCF should investigate fully to make sure that nothing nefarious contributed to Ki’ari’s death.

We all know, however, that no matter how “good” they are, kids are kids. They do things like playing with wall outlets, jumping in pools, riding on ATVs without helmets, and on and on.

Diane Johnson, cousin of the mother of Ki’ari Pope, speaks to the media on behalf of the family on August 3. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

According to her family, Ki’ari was a happy third-grader who loved school and basketball. She was also a strong-willed little girl. The kind of kid who, if you dared her, wouldn’t back down.

Small wonder then that on that fateful day in March, when her cousins dared her to try a “hot water challenge” they had all watched on YouTube, she didn’t back down.

Ki’ari ended up hospitalized with a tracheotomy but seemed to recover before succumbing on July 31. Her  family plans a funeral for her on Saturday at Johnson’s Memorial Chapel in Boynton Beach.

Do a quick search of “Hot Water Challenge” and up pops numerous — often graphic — videos on YouTube, some with millions of views.

RELATED: Mom of girl who died after drinking boiling water says: ‘She was full of life’

You will also find stories about Ki’ari.

“Tell your kids about these challenges, these challenges are horrific,” Ki’ari’s aunt Diane Johnson said. “Parents talk to your kids about these challenges, don’t just give them your phone and let them go by, watch what they are doing.”

Good advice. Many parents believe they are keeping their child safe these days by not letting them run loose outside.

The message from Ki’ari’s aunt, however — and echoed by child safety experts — is that you have to be just as vigilant with them inside the home. Maybe even more so because of access to the Internet.

Sadly, an 8-year-old reading at grade level can run rings around almost any adult on a computer. Whereas our minds are crammed with stuff like paying bills, their minds are like dry sponges absorbing information from every nook and cranny on the Web. And some of these places are very dark.

We want to believe they know better. We feed, house and clothe them. We send them to good schools. We take them on family vacations.

But they still need our protection.

To be sure, not every tragedy like Ki’ari Pope’s can be explained away this simply. There are some bad, selfish and unattentive adults out there. The state’s over-worked corps of child welfare investigators is a testament to that fact.

It’s too early to say that about Ki’ari’s case, however. The fact that she didn’t come from a “perfect” home makes it easy to pass judgement.

We should be careful. Even the best kids from the best homes will do things that make adults question their parenting skills.

And sometimes, we realize that we’re just damn lucky.

Christie: Post reader calls for PBC Judge Santino’s removal from bench

Palm Beach County Judge Dana Santino speaks in front of a Judicial Qualifications Commission panel at the Palm Beach County Courthouse on August 2. Santino is accused of violating judicial canons during her campaign. (Meghan McCarthy/ The Palm Beach Post)

The topic of whether Palm Beach County Judge Dana Santino should remain on the bench has been a hot one among Post Opinion readers for months.

And now, one Post reader writes that the Florida Supreme Court should remove her, and Gov. Rick Scott appoint her cheated opponent, West Palm Beach defense attorney Gregg Lerman.

I first blogged about it back in March, positing that same question from readers.

Here’s the skinny on what’s got so many folks agitated:

During a hard-fought and very testy campaign for a judicial seat last fall, Santino stepped over the line in criticizing Lerman. Santino said some pretty nasty things about what Lerman does for a living, i.e. defending criminals.

Turns out denigrating any part of the legal profession in such a way during a campaign is a no-no. Thus, Santino was charged with violating four canons that dictate how judicial candidates are to behave. The 49-year-old former guardianship and probate attorney has admitted that her attacks on Lerman violated two of them.

But, in court papers, her attorney, Jeremy Kroll, insists she has a stellar record of legal service and has learned from her mistakes. So instead of a recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court that Santino be removed from office, he suggested the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) — a six-member panel of two judges, two lawyers and two citizens — save her nascent judicial career. Kroll suggested she receive a public reprimand and a $50,000 fine — the same punishment an Escambia County judge received in 2003 for making similar claims on the campaign trail.

RELATED: County Judge Santino’s future on bench now up to state panel

But in this case, precedent shouldn’t be prologue. And the fact Santino has exhibited good behavior since taking the bench would be like rewarding a driver who caused a major accident for being good driver for the few months until their trial.

Also, there just seems to be something wrong with addressing someone who admitted to doing something so dishonorable as “Your Honor.”

Yes, people makes mistakes. But to repeatedly make such mistakes, then fail to correct those actions, and then not acknowledge them after you’ve won tarnishes a judge and the robe they wear.

At a two-day hearing before the JQC last week, Santino was appropriately contrite and apologetic. But while casting herself as a “political neophyte,” she also deflected blame onto her political consultant, Richard Giorgio.

It just doesn’t wash.

What’s really unfortunate is that Santino might actually make a decent jurist if allowed to remain on the bench. But she might not. And what kind of message would that send to future judicial candidates, as well as the defendants and attorneys that would come before her?

And letter published on Tuesday morning’s Post Opinion page reflects that sentiment:

Dump Santino; put Lerman on bench

Dana Santino has now confessed to the Judicial Qualifications Commission charged with determining her fitness for the county court bench. She says she made a terrible mistake trusting her “hired gun” consultant’s advice and libeling her opponent in last fall’s race, Gregg Lerman, through vicious emails sent to county voters and an infamous “Truth About Gregg Lerman” Facebook page.

An Air Force general I worked for once told me, “Integrity means doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.” What could be a greater “fail” than for Santino to do the wrong thing when everyone’s looking? And then to double down and defend her actions repeatedly when called into question before Election Day, when there still was time to clean up her campaign?

The right thing to happen now is for the JQC panel to remove Santino from the bench. Then when Gov. Rick Scott appoints her replacement, the next right thing to do would be to appoint Lerman to the judge’s chair that he almost certainly would have won outright if not for Santino’s outrageous and illegal conduct.

That would be a remarkable act of statesmanship by the governor, for Lerman successfully sued the governor last year to prevent him from appointing the judgeship in the first place, forcing it onto the ballot so citizens like us could make the decision. It would mean Scott could set aside personal animus and do the fair thing that, intuitively, would very likely have been the will of the voters, had Santino not cheated so brazenly and fearlessly.

What a refreshing and encouraging message that action by our governor would send in this time of cynical partisanship.

STEVE EVERETT, SINGER ISLAND