Group fighting Florida’s pot proposal apologizes for middle-of-the-night robocalls

Campaign materials published by Drug Free Florida Partnership.

If it had been pot proponents who had mistakenly scheduled campaign robocalls for 4 a.m. instead of 4 p.m., we’d have no shortage of quips about weed’s harmful effects on short-term memory, decision making and perception of time.

Alas, it was opponents of Amendment 2, presumably stone-cold sober, who scheduled the calls that bombarded Florida voters before dawn Sunday.

“Our sincerest apologies to those voters who inadvertently received a recorded call during the early morning hours on Sunday,” Drug Free Florida Partnership said on its Facebook page. “It was not our intention to have those calls made at that hour. These calls were supposed to be made starting in the early PM and were mistakenly sent in the early AM. We are very sorry for the inconvenience.”

Voters who received the mistimed calls unloaded on the group’s Facebook page.

“These idiots called my house at 4:10 this morning!” wrote Heather Holley of DeFuniak Springs. “Not only is that a sure fire way to tick me off thanks to the fears a phone ringing at that hour always brings, but the message was full of of BS. I get that people, mostly ones that fail to educate themselves, have irrational fears about marijuana, but at least know what you are talking about when you open your mouth. The message had absolutely nothing to do with medical marijuana being on the ballot, and everything to do with fear mongering.”

Wrote another: “Mine was at 3am, what dimwits must be running this campaign.”


In Florida’s cannabis cash race, pro-weed group has the edge for now

Advocates want medical marijuana in Florida, but not like California

Inside Colorado’s pot shops: A picture of Florida’s future?

Even when pot is legal, bosses can fire workers for testing positive

John Morgan and Sheldon Adelson: Meet the money men behind Florida’s pot fight

Hazy science: Is weed a wonder drug?

Disappointment for medical pot patients who revealed their secret during Amendment 2 campaign

Florida’s godfather of weed says he doesn’t need to be drunk to drop f-bombs

Florida doctors have mixed opinions about medical marijuana

Florida Democratic Party gives $200,000 to pro-pot push

Jupiter Medical to open urgent care center in Palm Beach Gardens

John Couris, chief executive of Jupiter Medical Center
John Couris, chief executive of Jupiter Medical Center

While Jupiter Medical Center plots its expansion to downtown West Palm Beach, the medical complex is opening up another urgent care center in northern Palm Beach County — this time in Palm Beach Gardens.

Jupiter Medical Chief Executive John Couris said an urgent care center is in the works for 3250 PGA Boulevard, across from The Gardens mall. The 96,920-square-foot building was sold last year to an affiliate of Stiles, a South Florida-based real estate developer.

This marks the third separate urgent care center in north county for Jupiter Medical Center, based at 1210 S. Old Dixie Highway

Jupiter Medical already has two standalone urgent care centers in Jupiter: One is at 1335 W. Indiantown Road and the other is at 5430 Military Trail in the Abacoa Shopping Center.

Couris said it’s likely Jupiter Medical will expand to western Palm Beach County, possibly Wellington, through the opening of an urgent care center and a physicians’ practice group, too.

Jupiter’s expansion to Palm Beach Gardens comes as the non-profit plans an urgent care and medical offices with Mount Sinai Hospital of New York. The two hospital companies are taking 15,000 square feet in the ground floor space of the Bank of America Centre at 625 N. Flagler Drive. Plans are to rename the building the Jupiter Medical Center Mount Sinai New York Plaza.

The center will offer urgent care and physician services affiliated with Mount Sinai, a respected center of clinical trials and research and a national leader in cardiac care.

It’s possible some medical services will compete with nearby Good Samaritan Medical Center, up the street at 1309 N. Flagler Drive. But the Jupiter Medical/Mount Sinai complex is not a hospital, and it will not have an emergency room or hospital beds.

Urgent care is a hot trend in the health field, and hospitals are opening up offices for minor emergency visits throughout the county, in a bid to compete with independently owned urgent care centers.

But urgent care centers owned by hospitals raise concerns that patients may be directed to that hospital if in-patient care is required, even if the hospital is not located close to the urgent care centers.

Couris sought to allay those concerns about Jupiter Medical’s new West Palm Beach location, which should open in the next six months.

Couris said if any patient comes into its urgent care centers and is diagnosed with a condition that requires immediate hospitalization, that patient will be directed to the nearest hospital — and not necessarily Jupiter Medical, if it’s not the closest facility.

For example, if a patient visited the West Palm Beach facility and say, tests showed alarming heart symptoms, “they will go to the nearest hospital,” even if it’s Good Sam, Couris said.

“We will always do the right thing by the patient,” Couris said. “You’ll go to the closest facility. Period.”



Two years later, weed critics less generous in Amendment 2 fight

Sheldon Adelson (AP Photo/John Locher)
Sheldon Adelson (AP Photo/John Locher)

In 2014, proponents of Amendment 2 brought in $8.1 million to back their effort to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Opponents raised $6.4 million, including $5.5 million from Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

This year, the gap widened. Pot supporters raised $6.1 million through Oct. 28, while opponents brought in just $3.4 million, including $1.5 million from Adelson.

Proponents say weed critics have been less generous this year because the measure looks likely to pass.

Some owners in Trump properties leave references to The Donald out of their listing info

Donald Trump on Super Tuesday. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
Donald Trump on Super Tuesday. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

A study by Redfin finds that sellers of Trump-branded properties increasingly are leaving Trump’s name out of their listings.

How are sellers of units at Trump Plaza in West Palm Beach handling the candidate’s divisive campaign? That depends. The listing description for one penthouse at Trump Plaza omits Trump’s name — although the agent listing the condo says neither she nor the seller were trying to make a political statement.

“I just sell real estate,” says Samantha Curry, the Douglas Elliman agent listing the $3.6 million unit. “I stay out of politics.”

Curry’s reasoning: The unit’s building is listed in the MLS as Trump Plaza, and she didn’t want to waste precious words in the description field restating the obvious. What’s more, photos with the listing include shots of the Trump Plaza sign, and it’s hardly a mystery that 525 Flagler Drive is one of the Trump Plaza towers.

Andrew Thomka-Gazdik, an agent at Sotheby’s International Realty, includes the Trump Plaza name prominently in the description of a penthouse priced at $4.2 million. Like Curry, Thomka-Gazdik says he has no political agenda.

“Trump has had nothing to do with the building for more than 25 years,” Thomka-Gazdik says. “It’s just a name.”

Seattle-based Redfin says just 67.1 percent of listings in Trump properties nationwide this year mention Trump’s name. That’s down from 75.5 percent in 2015 and the lowest level in the six years Redfin studied.

Among other units for sale at Trump Plaza in West Palm Beach, some mention Trump, others don’t — not that it matters much. The building’s legal description starts with Trump’s name, as does the name of the subdivision, and any buyer visiting the building will be greeted with a prominent sign displaying Trump’s name.

At one Trump building in New York, unit owners unsuccessfully pushed to have Trump’s name removed from the building.

In West Palm Beach, residents of Trump Plaza don’t seem to be raving fans of the candidate whose name adorns their building. Unit owners Alex and Renate Dreyfoos, for instance, have made campaign contributions to George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio over the years, but not to Trump.

Another penthouse owner, the late Greta Faigen, this year cheered the Palm Beach Post’s endorsement of John Kasich for the Republican primary in March.

“I am in awe because I know that Donald Trump might call you ‘a loser,’ ‘stupid’ or many of his other adjectives directed at others that do not support him,” Faigen wrote in a letter to the editor.


Hottest housing markets: Palm Beach County ranks in top 5

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

South Florida features prominently in a ranking of the nation’s hottest residential markets. According to online real estate marketplace Ten-X, the Broward and Palm Beach counties rank in the top three best markets for housing appreciation.

Ten-X’s analysis:

“After seeing an acute fallout from the housing crisis, Palm Beach County continues to make strides in its recovery efforts. Existing home prices are a robust 10.5 percent higher than a year ago and sales are making upward progress toward prior peaks, up 4.1 percent year-over-year. Home buying remains affordable in light of significant price gains in recent years, especially in comparison to local apartment rentals. Employment is up 2.3 percent bolstered by its two largest sectors, professional/business services and education/healthcare. The metro’s population grew 1.7 percent in 2015, more than double the US average. With permit activity yet to signal a threat for overbuilding, Palm Beach is poised to enjoy more growth ahead.”

Palm Beach County ranks third in one-year price appreciation, but strong job growth and a lack of new construction push us ahead of Tampa in Ten-X’s overall ranking.

Once-hot markets such as Denver, Portland, Ore., and Oakland fell out of the top 10 but remain in the top 20. Baltimore ranks last in the ranking of 50 cities.

Ten-X’s top 5 by appreciation:

Metro area: One-year price increase

  1. Fort Lauderdale: 11.9%
  2. Tampa: 11.2%
  3. Palm Beach County: 10.5%
  4. Las Vegas: 10.4%
  5. Orlando: 9.0%


Money-losing maker of drug for Childhood Alzheimer’s to move headquarters to Jupiter


An Alachua penny stock firm is moving its headquarters to Jupiter. CTD Holdings aims to hire 50 workers here, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County said.

As of the end of 2015, CTD Holdings (Pink Sheets: CTDH, 50 cents) had nine employees. It lost $2.6 million last year.

Among CTD’s products is Trappsol Cyclo, a treatment for Childhood Alzheimer’s a rare disease.


Palm Beach County ranks No. 4 in national list of hottest retail real estate markets

Shoppers at the Palm Beach Outlets. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Shoppers at the Palm Beach Outlets. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

South Florida dominates a ranking of the nation’s hottest retail markets. According to online real estate marketplace Ten-X, the Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach metro areas rank Nos. 2, 3 and 4 in its list of best markets to own retail real estate over the next few years.

Ten-X’s analysis:

“West Palm Beach is benefiting from escalating population growth and steadily increasing employment numbers, each of which outpaces national averages. Retail demand is strong enough to withstand healthy additions to supply, and Ten-X Research forecasts that it will pull vacancies below 7 percent by 2018. Rents should continue an accelerating growth pattern over the same period, and steadily improving fundamentals show [net operating income] will continue to grow at close to 4 percent.”

And its top 5:

City: Four-year rent increase

  1. Austin: 19.6%
  2. Fort Lauderdale: 17.4%
  3. Miami: 16.2%
  4. West Palm Beach: 12.8%
  5. San Francisco: 11.7%

West Palm Beach office building sells for small gain


The 295,000-square-foot office tower at 1601 Forum Place in West Palm Beach just sold for $26 million, according to property records.

The property last sold in 2008 for $25 million. The seller is TA Associates Realty of Boston. The buyer is C-III Capital Partners of Irving, Texas.

Tenants include Bill Koch’s Oxbow Corp., commercial real estate brokerage NAI Merin Hunter Codman and accounting firm BDO.

BofA building sells for $23 million in WPB

share467A medical office building in downtown West Palm Beach is one step closer to being a reality.

The Bank of America Centre in West Palm Beach sold Oct. 14 for $23 million to a group that plans to bring medical offices to the waterview property, including Jupiter Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital of New York.

The 10-story, 110,000-square-foot office building overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway at 625 N. Flagler Drive.

Bank of America Centre
Bank of America Centre

Developer Michael McCloskey of FRI Investors is the buyer, along with Palm Beach investors Tom and Leslie Quick. They formed an entity called 625 Flagler Acquisition LLC, according to a deed recorded with the Palm Beach County clerk’s office.

The seller is EFN Flagler Property LLC, an entity owned by car dealer Ed Napleton, who bought it in 2014 and flipped it to Flagler Acquisition for about double what he paid.

Another bidder for the building confirmed the property’s note was sold for a price in excess of $11 million to Napleton, although the recorded deed shows a price of only $2.9 million.

McCloskey tried to bring the medical tenants to the city owned “tent site” on Okeechobee Boulevad and South Dixie Highway last year. The deal didn’t go through.

But medical tenants remain interested in catering to wealthy Palm Beach residents across the bridge. The Bank of America building is well-located to the island, next to the Flagler Memorial Bridge.

Even though the property is known as the Bank of America Centre, the bank no longer is in the building. Bank of America moved to the nearby Esperante office center this year.

Signs touting the incoming medical tenants are expected to rebrand the building.


New group forms to steer autonomous vehicle policy in Florida

A new group has formed to help guide any future autonomous vehicle policy in the Sunshine State.

Autonomous Florida, based in Tallahassee, “will provide an important voice from stakeholders and experts in the conversation about Sunshine State policy related to automated vehicle technology,” according to a news release.

The announcement comes at a time when interest throughout the U.S. in automated vehicles is high.

An Uber driverless Ford Fusion drives through in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in September. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
An Uber driverless Ford Fusion drives through in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in September. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Electric-vehicle maker Tesla announced last week that all of its cars now are being produced with self-driving capabilities. Earlier this year, Babcock Ranch, a new town being built near Fort Myers, said on its blog that it “will welcome driverless cars with open arms to help improve our residents’ overall quality of life.” Images popped up in early October of what are believed to be the first self-driving Chrysler minivans in Google’s Self-Driving Car Project.

And earlier this year, Florida passed a law addressing autonomous vehicles, becoming the second state to do so. The law states that a person who has a valid driver’s license may operate an autonomous vehicle in Florida; it also defines who would be considered the operator of an autonomous vehicle.

The new nonprofit group will work with lawmakers on issues related to automated vehicles as research, development and production continues to pick up in coming years.

“As autonomous vehicle technology improves — much of that research and development taking place in our own state — policy changes are also required, so that our laws account for unprecedented advancements in self-driving vehicles,” Allison Aubuchon, spokesperson for Autonomous Florida, said in the news release. “States looking to work with this technology have a great opportunity to be at the forefront of policy changes.”

What’s the difference?

It can be confusing: There are many terms floating around in the automated vehicle discussion. Here’s how the Florida Department of Transportation breaks it down:

“Automated vehicle is an umbrella term that includes both autonomous and connected vehicle technologies. An autonomous vehicle (AV) is any vehicle equipped with advanced sensors (radar, LIDAR, cameras, etc.) and computing abilities to perceive its surroundings and activate steering, braking, and acceleration without operator input. Connected vehicles (CV) employ vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication to provide real-time warnings to a human driver to help them avoid crashes. Additional information can include traffic signal status, traffic congestion and construction warnings, as well as impending severe weather events.”