Palm Beach Post and Sun Sentinel abandon Boca Raton

Boca Raton is the second largest city in Palm Beach County and is home to its highest total assessed property value, but for the first time ever, neither The Palm Beach Post nor the Sun Sentinel endorsed a candidate in the Boca municipal elections.

I emailed Palm Beach Post Editorial Page Editor Randy Schultz on Tuesday morning to find out why, but he has yet to answer my email.

Former Boca Raton City Councilman Dave Freudenberg was more successful than I was in getting an answer. Schultz is probably still smarting over my recent post, “Leaked emails between Palm Beach Post and Michael McAuliffe reveal liberal bias,” to answer any questions I might ask.

Freudenberg emailed Schultz the following:

[quotebox]Hi Randy… as a former city council member I always looked forward to the comments and endorsements by the Post editorial board on candidates for public office. It appears that this year the Post has elected to by-pass the city of Boca Raton elections. While I have made my choice I am deeply disappointed that the Post had given up on Boca as having any importance in the political process in Palm Beach county. Well, I am sorry and have been a long time subscriber to the Post. But with this decision of the Post’s editorial board I will make my own choice and will be canceling my subscription to your newspaper. I do not know who you favored but the decision is a sad one for all in Boca Raton thank you Dave Freudenberg.[/quotebox]

Schultz responded: “Dave, for whatever reason we couldn’t make contact with the Chapman campaign. I had expected a call on Thursday for a phoner and never heard. I don’t know whose fault it was, but we didn’t feel comfortable endorsing in that circumstance.”

Lori Walsh, Chapman’s campaign manager, disputes Schultz’s assertion, saying, “I called Randy to ask when the interviews were and he told me he was ‘sidetracked by the birth of their new grandchild’ and he would call me back. No one from the Chapman campaign ever heard from him again.”

First off, congratulations to Schultz on the birth of his grandchild. It’s always special when a new human life is brought into the world.

But for Schultz, who actually lives in Boca Raton, such excuses are disingenuous and raise questions about whether he and the Post ducked this race on purpose, or simply lack the resources to cover the entire county.

One consultant familiar with county and city politics told me he thought even Schultz didn’t like what the county and state firefighters were doing in the race but didn’t want to endorse the Republican, Chapman, so the race was ignored.

Of course, consultants spin, and if Schultz wanted to duck the race, that’s fine by me. His endorsements don’t exactly carry a lot of weight in the circles I travel in.

The most likely reason neither the Post nor the Sentinel took the time to endorse is the reason my sources in the mainstream media gave: The local print media has been so wracked by budget and staff cuts that they just cannot cover everything like they did in the past.

That’s an honest answer and what I believe to be the case.

But to take Schultz’s answer at face value is to believe that a decimated staff had nothing to do with it, and that waiting until a few days before an election to do a “phoner” interview, in the biggest political battle Boca has seen in years, is just business as usual.

It’s not, and I doubt Schultz would accept that answer from one of the politicians he writes about, and no matter whom one supported in the Boca election, neither should the people of Boca Raton.


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