No Losers at Environmental Coalition Forum?

I attended the first of Lake Worth’s candidate forums tonight at the Organic Music Cafe sponsored by the Environmental Coalition.  Three candidates for Mayor attended; William Coakley, Laurence McNamara and Javier Del Sol.  Two candidates for Commissioner also attended; Jo-Ann Golden and Ron Exline.

Panagioti Tsolkas served as moderator for the Coalition.

It was, as they say an intimate venue, so intimate in fact that the lack of air conditioning had me thinking global warming was making its presence known.  There appeared to be speculation that the “house would be stacked” in certain candidates favor and from what I saw and heard this was not the case.  With one  exception all the questions were fair and no bias was evident.  And when the biased question was posed to Rene Varela (who was not there) it fell flat on its face when the other candidates made light of it and came to his defense.

I have to say that in my opinion every candidate did a good job answering the questions and expressing their views.  I was pleased to hear what each one had to say and frankly, in my opinion,  there was no clear “winner” in tonight’s proceedings.

Let’s take a look at a few photos of the evening before talking about the other part of tonight’s story:

Panagioti Tsolkas


A packed house


Willie Howard from the Palm Beach Post







OMCD9 Jo-Ann



Okay, as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now the rest of the story”.  Several candidates chose not to attend tonight’s forum.  Two of them, Rene Varela (for Mayor) and Wes Blackman (for District 3) made public their reasons for not attending.

Rene explained his reasons in this letter:

Click to enlarge


Click here to read what Wes had this to say on his blog.

Despite their reasons I am profoundly disappointed that they chose to stay away from tonight’s forum.  Yes it was a small and uncomfortable venue, yes Organic Music Cafe endorses Javier Del Sol, and yes there was a perceived bias by the group sponsoring the forum.

However, those hoping to hold public office here in Lake Worth need to be able to step into situations that are not necessarily a level playing field.  A person’s best traits are displayed when they choose to enter an unfair arena and speak their truths.  If elected to office there will be plenty of unbalanced and biased situations to contend with.

I received an e-mail from someone who brought a friend to the forum because they had not heard Rene speak and they wanted to hear from him about the environment.  Judging from the e-mail Rene lost two votes by not attending.

It would have been far better for them to have attended and shown how they can stand up for themselves and their beliefs.

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14 Comments on “No Losers at Environmental Coalition Forum?”

  1. Mary Lindsey Says:

    In my opinion, the candidates that chose not to participate in this “debate” did indeed stand up for their beliefs. Would anyone question the courage of a candidate choosing not to participate in an event sponsored by the Arian Brotherhood or Al Qaida? Is that a ludicrous comparison with the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition? I think not.

    Dig down to the grass “roots” of this group and see what lies beneath the surface; the very same dedication to racial division, class warfare and economic instability. Hiding under the current banner of PBCEC are the very same radicals who used to call themselves Earthfirsters, avowed eco-terrorists who advocate lawlessness and anarchy.

    A very few minutes at the University of Google will provide all the evidence anyone needs to judge for themselves whether our candidates who declined the invitation to lend credibility and legitimacy to this gang of bullies displayed cowardice or courage.

    I judge them courageous and hope the controversy that’s coming will inspire others to say enough is enough. Time is running out here in Lake Worth and we cannot afford to ignore the elephant in the room anymore.

  2. tomspage Says:


    Thank you for the comment. No doubt the candidates who choose not to attend believed they were doing so for the reasons you cite.

    However, Wes and Rene decided not to attend at the last moment. Did they just figure it out at the 11th hour? There were supporters for both of them at the forum as there were for all of the candidates. And to a person they were disappointed that they did not attend.

    I have no great love for the group that sponsored the forum and am well aware of their origins and alliances. However it was not the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition that was there to be evaluated, it was the candidates.

    By not attending Wes and Rene allowed their opponents to have the floor unopposed. And when their opponents speak in a vacuum their unchallenged words gain legitimacy to those listening.

    I believe that it is best to take the fight directly to the very people that threaten the viability and future of Lake Worth. And sadly that did not occur last night.


  3. pietro Says:

    I am curious … should the public and the candidates consider the 14 October candidate forum sponsored by the Lake Worth Democratic Club -Rene Varela, President- to be “not necessarily a level playing field ?”

  4. Luther Nadler Says:

    Well Peter, if you really are interested in how objective presentations are made by responsible organizations that are respected—come to the Oct 14 debate–observe the diversity of questions and people as well as how adversarial questions are handled—IF, like you, opinionated judgements are made by the sponsors.

    • tomspage Says:

      Um, Luther I don’t think Pietro is who you think he is. In fact I’m pretty darned sure he isn’t who you think he is.


  5. Luther Nadler Says:

    Do you think it matters who I think it is? For me the question is more important than the messenger.

  6. Echo Steiner Says:


    Thanks for covering this event. I was disappointed that all the candidates did not show. However, the candidates that did make it had the extra time the absent candidates gave up. It will be hard for candidates to stand on a very tall platform of environmentalism without attending a forum hosted by a coalition of environmental organizations.

    I can only speak for our campaign’s strategy. We plan to attend and encourage as many events as possible. You can send a message with glossy resource wasting material, but nothing can compare with delivering your message directly to the voters.

    As far as the criticism of the hosts of the event. As usual hearing the local banter attacking organizers that both good people and friends is disheartening.

    What most people don’t realize is that PBCEC is not a local anarchist only organization. It is a wonderful mixture of organizations and individuals from all different walks of life. The fact that Panagioti is a main organizer makes folks think they can make assumptions about the group as a whole. He is the main face because he is an amazing organizer who has gained the respect of the local environmental movement. But to make light on the relevance of this group is to make light of the meat(or in Lake Worth, tofu) and potatoes of the folks who are on the front lines of protecting our resources.

    Even their critics must admit that the coalition has brought down giants.

    In the coming weeks, there will be forums hosted by the Christain Coalition and NOW on the same night and the Dems the following evening. Sounds like we will be in for a lot of fun and I am happy that citizens like you are sharing the fun and keeping an eye on our future elected officials.


    p.s. disclosure I am working on the Javier for Mayor campaign.

    and to cover all the bases:

    Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Javier Del Sol for Mayor

    • Mary Lindsey Says:

      Ms. Steiner says …”But to make light on the relevance of this group is to make light of the meat(or in Lake Worth, tofu) and potatoes of the folks who are on the front lines of protecting our resources.”

      There is nothing light-hearted or light-weight about the “folks” in this group and to make light of their deceptive and destructive agenda is foolish. These are not hairy but harmless hippies with too much time on their unemployed hands. These are well financed, well organized zealots operating under the auspices of ACORN and the Green Party among other radical extremist groups. They prey on the immature, the idealistic and the insane to inflict a maximum of chaos. They discredit and bring shame to any legitimate environmental cause that shares their coalition in Palm Beach County and everywhere else.

      • Joan Says:

        If your second paragraph is the real reason these candidates did not show up for this debate, they’ve lost my vote.
        Screeds and rants right off the Glenn Beck show don’t make for productive discussions nor are they the least bit rational.
        If this is truly the mindset of these candidates, good to know ahead of time.

  7. Dale Says:

    “Even their critics must admit that the coalition has brought down giants.”—–which giants?—in what context?—how are we better off for these “brought down giants”

  8. tomspage Says:

    Sorry for the delay in getting the last comment posted. I have to approve all first comments and I was away all day. After your first comment has been approved there is no delay from then on.


  9. Echo Steiner Says:

    What Giants you ask?

    Why everyone knows when not trying to stop diesel burning plants from being built in the everglades and bombing ranges from popping up in remote pristine locations around the state the PBCEC spends their time bringing down giants.

    First it was Goliath, then the Jolly Green One, and of course that logger Bunyan had to go. Ever since Panagioti got that slingshot for his birthday that is all he can think about.

    Those silly kids are so busy fighting mythical creatures they barely had time to help keep Scripps off of Mecca, stop the disgusting Delray Beach Outfall, or bring the public’s attention to the Barley Barber Swamp.

    In fact their, obsession with ridding lake worth of pixies and elves also almost prevented them from taking on the biggest giant of them all, the US military.

    But somehow in between the mythical creature fighting they scampered up a resistance and won another landmark victory today. Read all about it at

    Seriously, these are hardworking individuals, many of them do not self identify as hippies or anarchists and to paint them with one brush or as ineffective is shortsighted and biased. PBCEC is what it states “a coalition”.

    Let’s all hope they keep watching out for our planet. After all it is the only one we’ve got.


  10. Dale Says:

    So you haven’t stopped anybody from doing anything.

    Scripps is alive and well in PBC and expanding as well as acting as a magnet for like kind companies. They took their existing site as a financial consideration, rather than your grandstanding protest. We all heard how Peter cried like a baby when sentenced to 30 days. Hopefully he begins to understand that there are consequences to his illegal actions and that people are being held responsible for your actions.

    The density has been increased in and around the Acreage.

    We would have been better off with Scripps there instead of their site further east, but you are so out of control and not based in facts, that we have stopped trying to reason with you.

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