Facebook Live: Teens talk about Parkland shooting’s impact, gun violence

Call them Generation Parkland.

Though they were miles from the gunfire that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four months ago, they have been changed by it nonetheless.

“People are still devastated by these events,” said Donyea James, who just finished her junior year at American Heritage Boca/Delray High School. “It’s always on your mind: ‘What if it happens at my school? What if it would happen if I’m outside, or if I was the bathroom?'”

After the shootings, Keyiela Wilborn said she began checking on friends’ and classmates’ moods. The Palm Beach Lakes High school senior was looking for signs of possibly dangerous disquiet and encouraging them to talk if things are getting them down.

“It’s hard after these events to look at people the exact same way as you did before,” said Wendon Roberts of Spanish River High School. “But instead of thinking, ‘Oh, he’s being weird, I just better stay away from him,’ you have to think of it as, ‘Maybe this person really needs help.’ And that can stop a lot of these problems.”

Six teenagers, referred by the Urban League of Palm Beach County, talked with Rick Christie, editor of the Palm Beach Post Editorial Page, about the impact of gun violence in their communities and on their psyches. The Wednesday evening discussion was broadcast on Facebook Live.

The mass shooting at the Broward County high school spurred activism in the Palm Beach County students: they marched, held vigils, started organizations. “You want to do something not just to raise awareness, but to make a change,” James said.

Sterling Shipp and a friend had started a political science social group in the fall at Palm Beach Gardens High School. After Parkland, gun violence was the subject of every meeting. Attendance swelled. Even teachers came.

“It allowed us to have open dialogue,” Shipp said. “A lot of students came out, because they’re passionate about this.”

Gun violence hit close to home in other ways.

Wilborn said that, growing up in West Palm Beach and having relatives in Miami, “we hear about shootings all the time.” She knew a boy, “a wonderful kid, football player,” shot to death about a year and a half ago.

Roberts said that a classmate in 6th grade named Eduardo was killed along with his mother and brother in a domestic-violence shooting.

Christian Morales, just graduated from Suncoast High School, said a close friend and classmate named Brandon was shot and wounded in a drive-by while going for a walk with his brother.

Watch here:

Christie: Yes, separating migrant children from parents at U.S.-Mexico border is child abuse

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Children wrap themselves up with Mylar blankets to ‘symbolically represent the thousands of children separated from families on the border, sleeping on floors and held in cages’, during a protest at the rotunda of Russell Senate Office Building on Thursday on Capitol Hill. Activists staged a demonstration to protest the Trump Administration’s policy to separate migrant families at the southern border. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

UPDATE: Florida Sen. Bill Nelson will be in Homestead today at noon meeting with federal officials and getting a firsthand look at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children. Nelson, a Democrat, filed legislation in the Senate earlier this month to prohibit the Dept. of Homeland Security from continuing the blanket policy of separating children from their parents at the border. According to recent reports, there are roughly 1,000 migrant children currently being held at the Homestead shelter – some of whom were separated from their families at the border, and others who were unaccompanied minors when they crossed the border.

***

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it now has 11,785 migrants in custody. That includes 1,995 children who have been separated from their parents. And of those, more than 100 are four years old and younger.

This is just inhumane. I don’t care what Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says.

How does a four, three or two-year-old even process being separated from their mother? According to Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, they can’t. They just cry.

“These children have been traumatized on their trip up to the border, and the first thing that happens is we take away the one constant in their life that helps them buffer all these horrible experiences,” she said of the nearly 2,000 children affected by the crackdown. “That’s child abuse.”

This tragic build-up at the U.S.-Mexico border has been happening for some time. It’s only within the last several months that it has grown to a number that led President Donald J. Trump to feel that it was untenable.

But in fact, now we know that the Trump administration intentionally began separating migrant children from their parents specifically to discourage them from crossing the border.

According to The Associated Press, the policy, which started last month, “sought to maximize criminal prosecutions of people caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally,” leading to more adults in jail, separated from their children.

But remember, the vast majority of these people — from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and others — are attempting to escape violence in their own countries. And it is not illegal to seek asylum in this country.

It is illegal to come into the United States illegally. But the U.S. immigration system had been broken for decades; largely because of the lack of political will to fix it. As a result, the strictness of policy has depended on the administration.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, on Monday. At the event, Trump remained resistant in the face of growing public outcry over his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

But it’s very safe to say, no administration has gone this far.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp,” Trump said in remarks Monday where he doubled down by defending and deflecting on the migrant separations, “… and it will not be a refugee holding facility.”

Trump also continued to blame Democrats — despite the fact that Republicans control the House, Senate and White House — for his implementing this part of a zero tolerance policy. Worse, the president and his administration continued to put forth lie that they are following law. There is no law requiring migrant children be separated from their parents.

As we are bombarded with pictures and audio recordings of children wailing in what look like dog kennels, however, the mutual disgust is crossing partisan lines. The pundits argue that Trump is playing to his base of support, but a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday  showed that Americans, 3-1, want this policy ended.

Even Melania Trump, one of the most reticent first ladies in memory, came out on Twitter against the the child separations. And former first lady Laura Bush criticized the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration as “cruel” in a Washington Post op-ed Sunday likening it to Japanese internment camps.

“I live in a border state,” Bush wrote. “I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

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What do you think of the Trump administration policy of separating migrant children from their parents? Take our poll and tell us.

Christie: OK, you try measuring expectations for the Trump-Kim summit

President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un of North Korea during a document signing ceremony on Sentosa Island in Singapore, June 12, 2018. The two leaders signed what Trump called a “comprehensive document.” Trump indicated that a process of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula could begin “very quickly. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

UPDATE: President Trump and Chairman Kim signed an agreement to move toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula some time in the next “3-15 years.” Something the North Koreans have agreed to before, by the way. Details are sparse, but Trump apparently wants to stop U.S.-South Korea training exercises — or “war games” — as a precursor to removing U.S. troops altogether. Also, future meetings could be held in Pyongyang and the White House. Bottom line: The only thing historic about this summit right now is a big photo op between a U.S. president and a brutal North Korean dictator.

***

By the time you read this Tuesday morning, the long-awaited, much-hyped summit between President Donald J. Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has come and gone.

The days of pomp and circumstance that led up to the hours-long meeting of East and West, socialism and capitalism, ego and ego-prime, young and old, basketball and golf is over. There’s nothing left but the Twitter storm to follow.

Well, actually there was to be a 4 a.m. (ET) news conference on Tuesday with Trump, sans Kim.

Kim is on his way back to Pyongyang; and later to Russia to meet with President and fellow dictator Vladimir Putin, who also happens to be a favorite of Trump. We can speculate that Putin, in fact, could serve as the future facilitator of a summit between Trump and Kim — a la President Jimmy Carter with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Although that didn’t turn out too well in the end for Sadat.

SINGAPORE — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walks along the Jubillee bridge during a tour of some of the sights on June ahead of his summit meeting with U.S. President Donald J. Trump in Singapore. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

As of 7 a.m. Tuesday (ET), Trump is already on his way back to the U.S. aboard Air Force One. The schedule, as of Monday night, has him back at the White House by 8 a.m. Wednesday.

By the time the meeting arrived Monday night (9 p.m. ET), the expectations for the historic face-to-face had already been set so low it is hard to gauge what would likely happen.

Even NBA great and Kim BFF Dennis Rodman was talking down expectations.

“People should not expect so much for the first time,” Rodman said as he emerged from the baggage claim area at Changi airport around midnight Monday. “Hopefully, the doors will open.”

He told reporters he wasn’t sure if he would meet Kim in Singapore.

http://kutv.com/news/nation-world/former-nba-star-rodman-arrives-in-singapore

White House officials have said Rodman will play no official role in the diplomatic negotiations. Trump said last week that Rodman had not been invited to the summit.

We’re kind of left to wonder then whatever happened to the lofty goals of set for this “historic” summit months ago when it was first mentioned.

SINGAPORE — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo answers questions at a press briefing on Monday. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been saying as late as Sunday that President Trump’s goal is nothing short of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

But try to find one Korea expert that would give that even a remote possibility from this summit. Most said that Kim won’t even entertain talk of such a thing unless the U.S. and other nuclear-powered nations do the same. (Yeah, like that’ll happen.)

Ending the Korean War — basically a paperwork issue — by signing a formal peace treaty was also out there as a major goal. Kim would basically have to do what former North Koreaan president Syngman Rhee wouldn’t do 65 years ago, which is join the U.S. and South Korea and sign the armistice agreement officially ending hostilities.

Of course, it’s not that simple.

The 1953 agreement calls for all sides to hold a political conference “to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea (and) the peaceful settlement of the Korean question.”

That summit, the Geneva Conference of 1954, ended in spectacular failure. Not only did it not produce a peace treaty ending the Korean War, but negotiations over France’s withdrawal from its colonies in Indochina set the stage for the Vietnam War.

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It still could happen. But since China and the U.S. were both major combatants on both sides of the war, both would need to be there for an official ending. (Right, there’s no China in Singapore.)

Take our poll, and tell us what you would be happy with coming out of the Trump-Kim summit.

Christie: Follow the money in heated West Palm Beach commission race

Christina Lambert, who won the West Palm Beach City Commission District 5 seat in March, poses for photo with Mayor Jeri Muoio and other supporters. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

It’s been nearly three months since challenger Christina Lambert unseated West Palm Beach Commissioner Shanon Materio by a mere 183 votes in a heated, and increasingly controversial race.

The city hadn’t seen the likes of this kind of nastiness since Mayor Jeri Muoio defeated former Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell in a knockdown, drag-out, no-holds-barred mayoral brawl back in 2015.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Ex-West Palm commissioner: Foe’s consultant hid election contributors

And Materio is back for Round 2. According to the Post’s Tony Doris, she has filed three complaints with the Florida Elections Commission alleging that three shell companies were created to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars for political purposes without declaring themselves political organizations — which are required to identify contributors.

The political purpose? Electing Lambert.

The contributors? Voters don’t know. But shouldn’t they, for the sake of transparency?

The proposed One Flagler tower was rejected by the West Palm Beach City Commission last September by a vote of 3-2.

Lambert, a newcomer with business community ties, managed to knock off the more seasoned Materio mainly because she had the money. She also had in her corner Rick Asnani, one of the county’s top political consultants.

That’s all good. Lambert won the seat, and is ensconced on the commission. Ready to vote, among other things, on a rejuvenated plan to create the Okeechobee Business District (OBD). Yep, the same OBD that would allow the construction of the 25-story One Flagler office building pretty much on Flagler Drive.

That’s not all good. A number of city residents — vocal city residents — don’t like the idea of building the tower on an already traffic-clogged Okeechobee Boulevard. They especially don’t like the fact that the issue seemed dead after it was defeated when it came before the commission in September.

But what a difference an election makes.

RELATED: West Palm: Lambert narrowly beats Materio; Shoaf wins District 1

Shanon Materio, former West Palm Beach city commissioner.

Materio has been accused of some stuff too.

“Ms. Materio used a campaign committee that was established in the month of February 2018, just one month before the election, and ran $23,000 in donations through the entity to help her campaign while hiding the donors,” Asnani told the Post. “Prior to that, Materio used a different political committee to send out a mailing that is being investigated by the Florida Elections Commission for potential illegal donations.”

Political operative Bill Newgent, for his part, filed complaints about a series of alleged misfilings and a missed deadline regarding Materio’s campaign documentation, Doris wrote.

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Election campaigns laws exist for a reason. The primary one being so that voters know who is influencing or attempting to influence candidates that are vying to represent constituents.

We know that transparency is a good thing… and “democracy dies in the darkness.”

But this long after the election, is there value in Materio’s insistence on knowing the names of the people or entities that contributed to those three mysterious shell companies created by Asnani?

Christie: Thankful Hurricane Irma wasn’t worse, but we can’t dodge bullets forever

Police turn around traffic attempting to cross the bridge on Lake Avenue after the passing of hurricane Irma in Lake Worth. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

We, meaning Palm Beach County, “were damn lucky.”

Basically, that was the assessment in my editorial following Hurricane Irma last year. The massive storm looked like it was going to swallow the entire state as it approached us from the south after beating the snot out of Puerto Rico and Cuba in the Caribbean.

That’s not to say Irma didn’t leave a mark here, of course. Power and cellular service outages, tens of thousands of folks in shelters, tons of debris and hundreds of non-functioning traffic lights made life miserable for a lot of us for a while. Enough so, as the Post’s Kimberly Miller recounts today, that many residents still “believe they survived much worse during the September tempest, and aren’t keen to hear otherwise.”

RELATED: Hurricane Season 2018: Think you survived a Cat 4 here? Not even close

Well, we need to listen up and get real. Not to belittle anyone’s feeling of suffering, but we should be thankful we didn’t get Irma’s worst. Our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico can’t say that.

And as the 2018 Atlantic storm season kicks off today, we need to take whatever lessons learned from our Hurricane Irma “test run” and apply it to this year.

Because we can’t dodge bullets forever.

So following is my Sept. 13, 2017 editorial in full… Thanks for listening, and be prepared.

Editorial: Hurricane Irma spared Palm Beach County its worst

We were lucky, Palm Beach County.

Hurricane Irma, after taunting us for days with its record-breaking size and power, spared us its worst.

It may not seem that way to some. Not if you’re one of the roughly 300,000 residents still without power. Not if you’re one of the thousands of residents of Delray Beach and unincorporated county who still can’t flush their toilets. And not if you’re the parent of one of the School District’s 193,000 students who won’t return to school until Monday — at the earliest.

But we were.

You see, dozens of people here weren’t left dead in Irma’s wake as in the Caribbean. A quarter of our homes here weren’t made uninhabitable as they were in the Florida Keys. There was no 10- or 15-foot storm surge here as was seen in tiny Goodland on Marco Island.

A skateboarder takes advantage of a sidewalk damaged by uprooted trees along South Olive Avenue just north of Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach after Hurricane Irma. The road was blocked in both directions. (Meghan McCarthy / The Palm Beach Post)

We are instead left with some trees down, spot flooding, long gas station lines and a chance to show some gratitude.

There are, of course, those who, ready to hurl the asinine “fake news” moniker, complaining that the media over-hyped the storm. Really? Yes, we should be skeptical of hype — especially from dubious sources. But when the National Weather Service says the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean is headed in your direction, the prudent thing is to shutter the house, grab the kids and get the hell out of the way.

No less than Gov. Rick Scott, himself no fan of the media, wasted no time in taking this monster of a storm seriously and pleading with us daily to do the same.

As The Post’s Kimberly Miller reported, “Mother Nature stepped in to tweak Irma’s plan” to deliver a worst-case scenario for our county.

“By the grace of Cuba’s northern coast, which was abraded by Irma before the strong Cat 4 hurricane reached the Florida Straits, and a tongue of dry air sucked into its massive, state-swallowing wind field, the storm weakened slightly and couldn’t regain strength before making its first landfall Sunday morning at Cudjoe Key,” Miller wrote.

And according to Jonathan Erdman, a senior digital meteorologist at Weather.com: “There are just so many little subtle things that can make all the difference. After it hit the Keys, it took a more due north path instead of north-northwest and that drove the eye wall ashore near Marco Island, which started weakening it.”

Weakened, but not inconsequential. In its wake, Irma left billions of dollars in damage and thousands of people across the Florida Peninsula who could use a hand — in shelters, in nursing homes, and yes, even next door.

Yes, the vast majority of us were damn lucky.

As good a time as any to show some gratitude, and volunteer to help those that weren’t.

Goodman: Roseanne’s raw racism earns well-deserved cancellation

Roseanne Barr   (Brinson+Banks/The New York Times)

A television network stood up for decency today. With head-spinning speed, ABC canceled its hit revival “Roseanne,” just hours after its titular star tweeted a crude racist remark about former Obama presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett.

The viciousness of the tweet (“muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj”) was a shock too great for Disney, ABC’s owner, to tolerate, even if it meant sacrificing the highest-rated and most-watched series of the broadcast season.

Robert Iger, Disney CEO, tweeted “there was only one thing to do.”

The quick axing was a necessary corrective in this age of Trump, when the dog whistles from the White House have awakened many an inner racist. When you have a president who says there are “some fine people” amid the neo-Nazis at Charlottesville, who talks about “shithole countries,” you’re going to see an uptick in hate speech. You’re going to get what Roseanne Barr called her “bad joke” about Jarrett’s “politics and her looks.”

You can’t separate President Donald Trump from this story. Indeed, Trump has celebrated “Roseanne”‘s high ratings as a powerful endorsement of himself and his followers.

In the revival of the show, the title character returned to the air after a 21-year absence as, explicitly, a Trump supporter — just like Barr, the mouthy comedienne who plays her. The sitcom was seen as smart counter-programming on a network that has made a specialty of minority-themed comedies with a liberal bent, like “Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat.”

ABC seemed, in fact, to be smelling the makings of a trend. There was talk of developing more shows to cater to conservative, Trump-admiring audiences. And why not, if the shows could deal with our divisions with humor and wisdom — and not compound our divisions?

The network seemed OK with its hard-to-control star, even when she filled her Twitter account with wildly fact-free conspiracy theories.

But raw racism — such as comparing an African-American woman (even a woman as accomplished as Jarrett) to a simian — has no place in American society. We cannot go back to a time when it was considered OK for many white Americans to look upon people of other races, cultures or religions as less than fully American — nay, less than human.

When that attitude surfaces, it must be confronted and repudiated.

By doing so in such a swift and forceful manner, ABC has done us all a favor. It has helped steer America’s course back towards its true north.

I’d like to know what you think.

Poll: Did the NFL make the right call regarding kneeling players?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (Photo by Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

The National Football League, under pressure from many fans and the man in the White House, announced rules meant to remove the spectacle of players kneeling in protest during the playing of the national anthem.

Team owners voted Wednesday to require all team and league personnel who are on the field during the anthem to “stand and show respect” for the flag and the song. Those who choose not to stand for the anthem can stay in the locker room or away from the field, although each club can adopt its own additional rules.

Rick Christie, editor of the Palm Beach Post’s Editorial Page, says the owners are ordering players to subdue their protests against racial injustice: “In other words: Don’t demonstrate downtown, I have shopping to do. Don’t demonstrate at a sporting event because you take away from my entertainment. Why can’t you all just shut up and dribble?”

What do you think? Take our poll:

Post’s Christie, Goodman tell WPTV’: ‘South Florida sea-level rise threat is real’

The Intracoastal Waterway between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach an hour after high tide. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

We’ve been beating the drum on the issue for weeks now: The message that there is no graver threat to the future of South Florida than the accelerating pace of sea-level rise. By 2060, the sea is predicted to rise another 2 feet, with no sign of slowing down.

RELATED: Editorial: Wake up, South Florida! Speak up on sea-level rise

The editorial boards of The Palm Beach Post, South Florida Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald — with reporting help from WLRN Public Media — have joined hands in an unprecedented collaboration this election year to raise awareness about the threat facing South Florida from sea-level rise. Our goal is to inform, engage, provoke and build momentum to address the slow-motion tidal wave coming our way.

The collaboration is called The Invading Sea.

To that end, we (Post Editorial writer Howard Goodman and me) went on WPTV-Channel 5‘s  “To the Point” to discuss the threat of sea level rise with host Michael Williams.

As we’ve said previously, most South Floridians get it. The Yale Climate Opinion Maps show 75 percent of us believe global warming is happening, even if we don’t all agree on the cause. We understand that when water gets hotter, it expands. And warmer waters are melting the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. If all of Greenland’s ice were to melt — and make no mistake, it’s melting at an increasing clip — scientists say ocean waters could rise 20 feet.

The problem is, too few of us are convinced sea-level rise will personally harm us in our lifetimes. We’ve got to change that mind-set because it already is. Lila Young, who has lived on the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach for 30 years, said she’s seen the king tides progressively getting higher and flooding her neighborhood more often.

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Palm Beach County is fortunate to have a slightly higher elevation, which means the risks aren’t quite so acute here as for our neighbors to the south. Still, the high-priced real estate on the barrier islands is equally vulnerable, along with the low-lying mainland along much of West Palm Beach’s Flagler Drive. As the sea level rises, the agricultural area south of Lake Okeechobee will drain more and more slowly after a major rainfall. And when significant hurricanes and floods hit farther south, we may see a sudden flood of people from Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Are we ready? Are we taking the threat of sea-level rise seriously enough?

Christie: Will new One Flagler tower push bring the same old questions?

Kenneth Himmel, president and CEO of Related Cos., speaking at the monthly Palm Beach Chamber meeting at The Breakers, is expected tor renew a push for his proposed One Flagler project . (Melanie Bell / Daily News)

It’s been the worst-kept secret in West Palm Beach since the March 13 election.

Mayor Jeri Muoio is looking to make another push to create the controversial Okeechobee Business District (OBD), which is basically a way to allow the Related Cos. to get approval to build the proposed 25-story One Flagler tower on the waterfront.

It’s also been no secret that the mayor was not happy after September’s City Commission vote to create the OBD went 3-2 against her and Kenneth Himmel, president and CEO of Related.

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Himmel, the developer of CityPlace and more, has done a lot of good for downtown West Palm Beach. To that end, he and Muoio share a vision of a European-influenced downtown that attracts financial heavyweights to the shores of the Intracoastal Waterway.

The problem is that a lot of downtown residents don’t necessarily agree with this vision, especially when the city looks to make a decision that appears to benefit a single person or company. And not to mention if there is no legit reason for making an already horrible traffic situation even worse.

The proposed One Flagler tower was rejected by the West Palm Beach City Commission last September by a vote of 3-2.

The Post Editorial Board took issue with this, and the way the process appeared to be manipulated before the City Commission’s closely-watched September decision narrowly voting it down.

“It looks beautiful in the drawings. The proposed One Flagler in West Palm Beach — designed by renowned architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, of New York’s Freedom Tower — is less an office tower than a work of art: tiered, slender, luminous, yet restrained.

The tower’s developers, The Related Cos., admirably intend to preserve the handsome and historic First Church of Christ, Scientist, and to memorialize the long-neglected African-American architect Julian Abele.

But they want to put their 25-story building on a waterfront site zoned for five stories. To accomplish this, the West Palm Beach City Commission is being asked on Monday to carve out a glaring exception to the city’s Downtown Master Plan by creating an “Okeechobee Business District” that will allow 25-story buildings to benefit, basically, this one property.

However attractive this tower may be, the contortions being done to the city’s zoning rules are ugly. So are the political strong-arm tactics employed to dampen opposition, such as the abrupt removal of a veteran member of a key planning board who had asked pointed questions about One Flagler… “

But the March election changed the make-up of the commission. There are two new members, one of whom replaces a former no vote — Shanon Materio.

RELATED: Editorial: 25-story One Flagler too much for West Palm waterfront

With Tuesday evening’s Planning Board meeting on the OBD scheduled, I thought it a good idea to re-publish last September’s editorial and ask about a potential future vote.

Take our poll and leave a comment here…

Christie: Um… so what’s going on with these rising gas prices?

MIAMI — Customers pump gas into their vehicles as reports indicate that the price of gasoline continues to rise. AAA forecasts the national gas price average will be as much as $2.70/gallon this spring and summer. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

For the last few weeks, there has been an elephant in the room of the (sort of) daily White House Press briefing.

As of Monday’s gaggle, no White House reporter has asked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about what the president plans to do about rising gas prices. Not one word. Nada.

That’s kind of glaring given the fact that anyone who drives a car, truck or lawnmower  has felt some pain at the pump as gas prices have spiked the last several weeks. Again, as of Monday, the average price per gallon for unleaded gas was $2.73 in Florida and $2.85 right here in in Palm Beach County, according to AAA.

RELATED: Spring runup in gas prices has begun

Prices for gas are running at their highest in at least three years, and are expected to go even higher as Memorial Day kicks off the summer driving season. And AAA warned of potentially higher oil prices this week if President Donald Trump pulls out of the nuclear deal with Iran and imposes sanctions on that oil producing nation.

Usually, this would be fodder for Washington reporters to pound the current White House occupant on the issue, asking: “What’s the president going to do about this issue that affects literally every American household?”

Fair or not. Ever since the Arab Oil Crisis of the 1970s, no American president has been immune to this baseline pocketbook issue. Well, it seems, until now.

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The White House Press Corps can be forgiven for being a little distracted.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders calls on reporters during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Let’s see: there has been serious stuff like the above-mentioned blowing a hole in the Iran Nuclear deal and further de-stabilizing the Middle East. There’s setting up a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to broker a peace on the Korean Peninsula. There has been the less serious comedic takedown of Sanders by Comedy Central’s Michelle Wolf at the much-maligned White House Correspondents Association Dinner. And of course, the daily drumbeat of developments on the Stormy Daniels’ front — which has reached a new octane level under Trump’s new lawyer, bombastic former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Wait… what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, higher gas prices.

To be sure, the White House has continued to trumpet other (positive) economic news. On Friday, the president made sure to mention the latest jobs report that showed the unemployment rate dip below 4 percent to 3.9 percent — technically a sign of full employment.

Although it would be nice, as economists note, to see workers’ wages finally show a substantial increase as a result of that much-ballyhooed $1.5 trillion Republican tax cut.

Gas pump prices have been heading upward for months, about 50 cents more on average than a year ago. But is that enough reason for consumers to be concerned?

Could it be that higher gas prices are not as a big a deal as they were in the past?

What’s paying 50 cents more per gallon than you were a year ago mean anyway? Well, if you have a 20-gallon tank, that’s $10 more per fill-up. Average two fill-ups a month and that’s $240 more you’re paying a year. And if you still haven’t gotten rid of that big sport-utility vehicle, God help you.

There are also plenty of small businesses that depend on gas to run their operations. Pizza and other food delivery, retail florists, landscapers and those now-ubiquitous food trucks, just to name a few.

Take our poll here, and tell us what you think about rising gas prices. Are you concerned, changing any travel plans, etc.?