Susan Haynie: Today’s Image of Our City

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Susan Haynie - Today's Face of Boca Raton

Not all of us are cut out for politics. Some people are attracted to it. Some people do well in it. But like anything else, no matter how hard you try, there’s always going to be things working against you. Some risks pay off. Some risks cost instead. People who dedicate years of their lives to service often have all their good work overshadowed by controversy and negative attention. To some this seems unfair. To others, simple, minor technicalities can imply larger issues; they could be just the tip of the iceberg. Whether the accusations against Susan Haynie are fair or not, they hurt Boca. Will Susan Haynie realize how much it’s hurting us and go back to just being our neighbor again?

I was one of those people who heard about Susan Haynie’s failure to declare certain business relationships and thought at first: “how minor – how silly”. Despite others around me alluding to large ice shelves of malfeasance soon to float up into view, I am not looking forward to any more. I personally am tired of hearing about how she was negligent in filling out some tedious forms and really don’t care what the legal ramifications of it are. The legal technicalities of it have flown over my head too many times. I can’t pretend to understand what she did wrong. Something with forms or declaring or something.

She’s not someone who deserves to have people whisper “treachery” behind her back, but instead a person who deserves to be smiled at when you see her. No matter what your political opinions are about her she’s still our neighbor, still someone who calls your community home. She’ll probably have to deal with all sorts of PR and maybe even legal problems moving forward, enough stress with the Florida Commission on Ethics and what follows.

Maybe there’ll be one Susan Haynie going into the struggles ahead of her, another Susan Haynie coming out? People can change. People gain experiences over time that shape their character. Maybe she’ll have some time to play SimCity some day, look back and be the one who says “How could you Susan Haynie?

It’s one thing to attack a person’s decisions, another thing to attack the politician’s person. That’s not just becoming more ineffective in 2018, it’s not what you do to a neighbor. Negative attack pieces turn my stomach and make me want to vote for the person being attacked. Ad hominem attacks against Susan Haynie or anyone who sticks their neck out into the public space are sophomoric. Recent elections have proven the Boca Raton voting audience have matured against negative media and developed savvy to sniff out insincerity. Other people can throw sticks, rocks and mud like cavemen. That’s their prerogative. I’m not going to waste my energy on something that backfires.

However…. 

My pie in the sky ideals against ad-hominem attacks aren’t favored by political consultants. Many still want to go negative – they think it still works. The mudslinging and bad news about Susan Haynie’s form-filling skills aren’t going to stop. As she attempts to put this behind her, even if she goes on to get a seat on the County Commission there will be people slinging mud, stories where Boca Raton is mentioned. It won’t just be a local story but will be a story that’s relevant to everyone in the county. Boca Raton will be mentioned and people around the county will associate our city’s name with corruption, earned or not, fair or not.

The Appearance is What Matters

Sometimes someone is highly visible for a company or a brand. If that person is a sports figure, a celebrity, an influencer then they aren’t alone; they represent the entire brand, all the employees, all the vendors, all the loyal brand fans. It’s easy for them to get dropped like a hot potato when they’ve done something questionable – when keeping them means damage to the brand. They can’t be kept because that means hurting everyone else who is working so hard to achieve their common goals. 

A politician isn’t so rapidly detached when it hurts the brand. A politician has to be voted out, thrown out through an embarrassing and messy process, or step down. It’s not like when a football player’s shoe endorsement contact can be cancelled overnight. The longer that politician stays in office the more negative news stories stain their constituency indirectly. Mud slung at them makes the town sound dirty.

Boca’s already got real, serious reputation problems..

It’s not easy for me to explain, to other digital marketing people, that my home is in Boca Raton. They say “Oh – SPAMMER!”. This is because Boca Raton earned the reputation of “The SPAM Capitol“. We had a few top spammers here, people who sent unsolicited emails. Whether we use email as a tactic or not it’s still super-embarrassing. I know it hurts our reputations no matter how above board our online marketing tactics are. It makes me say “I’m from the Palm Beach area” instead when I’m talking to people in my industry.

I’m sorry if I’m the one informing you of this, but that personal anecdote isn’t the only horrible reputation we already have to deal with. We’re also known as a mecca for financial scams. Can Boca Business really afford one more bad reputation? I think this matters a lot: people who are choosing to move here or to start businesses here aren’t blind to it.

  • Will people want to move their residences here to fill the new planned residential units as much if they think the City is corrupt?
  • Will they think it’s safe? Or do they need to consider whether a bridge is going to collapse on them because of cronyism like at FIU?
  • Will people want to move their businesses here, or worse yet do business with those of us already here if we have a reputation of being corrupt?

I hope for Boca’s sake that Susan Haynie weighs the cost to Boca Raton’s brand (high), the measurable cost to all of us,  against how much good she believes she can do in the future (probably lower than average given all the baggage).  Is an upstream paddle going to be easy? Will there be time to actually get things done? Is it worth stepping up to have political opponents take cheap shots and sling really sticky mud that will stick to Boca, stick to me and stick to you, for a long time too?

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Jason came to Boca Raton with his family in the late Seventies. He attended Boca Raton Middle School, Boca High and FAU. He's been a Park Ranger for the City, lived and worked in Dade and Broward Counties, and moved back to Boca in 2006. Now he's the Editor of BocaWatch, and writes articles habitually on whatever interests him. His personal blog ClickWhisperer.com features topics about the Internet, social media, free speech, privacy, media and more. Go read his articles about using online marketing at MassiveImpressions.com. How long will he last here before he gets into big, big trouble somehow? Sign up for the newsletter and find out.

24 COMMENTS

    • Marilyn, we agree…her remaining in office is detrimental to Boca Raton. In light of what has been uncovered, her vacating the mayor seat is the right thing to do. The article points out three ways for her to be gone; 1) Voted out; 2) Removed from office; or, Resign. Resigning is immediate…and serves the best interests of all….Whether she will resign is another matter. Al Zucaro, BocaWatch Publisher

      • Hey—why not any looking into her and beach cover up—your a joke Al–I would love you to ask Ch 12 about my info on it!!Domestic violence by Captain–baker acted guards–drinking on job—dopers —just have lunch with me chicken–561-843-3964

  1. I don’t know the point of the article? We are to be tolerant of corruption?
    Not all corruption is punishable?
    What are the facts?
    Where was the substance?
    Forgive and forget?

    • The point is that YOU are being punished for this no matter what exactly Susan Haynie did. It makes our town look bad. What could be worse? Image matters to me, maybe too much I guess. I’m only paying attention to the pain, not its cause. I’m saying how it makes me FEEL, and what I worry about because of it, because I know others are inheriting this same perception and maybe they’re not in touch with what it means.

  2. Publisher’s comment:
    The article’s design is to mount pressure to get her to resign….How is that point missed….There is no immediate way to see her gone from the mayor’s seat…she is in the seat until March of 2020 assuming she withdraws from the County Commission race; if she stays in the County Commission race she is in the seat until November of this year; the State Ethics Commission could recommend her removal from office to the Governor but that is a long shot and the Governor taking such an action is also a long shot….not to mention that we have no idea when the State COE will act….so Resignation is the most immediate path….people need to comment; take the public microphone; send her emails and make phone calls demanding her resignation…..that is the people’s best response…otherwise there is little to be gained by howling at the moon….Monday my publisher’s pet peeve video on this subject will publish…again the design is to get her to resign and resign now!!!!

  3. I have lived here for over 34 years, love Boca….
    but Hayne has ruined our city, highrise cement buildings, constant building, no parking, more crime, driving down East Palmento Park road is like driving thru cement walls and caverns….
    This is not New York !!!!!!! Boca Raton had history, a beautiful Beach town, small shops,
    not constant bumper to bumper traffic, schools were not over crowded, our community had class.
    Driving is herendious, cursing, all ages of people giving us fingers, crashes , etc. etc.
    When is she going to stop building, doing favors, kickbacks, making deals with developers for profit, etc, etc, Corruption is rampant in Boca.
    This got to STOP. Step down !!!!! Resign….
    NO MORE DEVELOPERS…

  4. The ruling came down from the Ethics Commission, not the county commission.
    It is important for blogs to try and at least stick to the facts.

    • From my understanding, the County Commission creates within themselves an Ethics Board, the same people with a different agenda on their plate. Please correct me where exactly I am wrong and I will reflect that in the article. Your input is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  5. Amongst many unanswered questions, the biggest issue with this Mayor and the previous one is the fact that they gave away variances in heights, variances in densities and other building handouts to their friends to get richer at the many expenses of the residents. Including this developer that she happened to forget to declare a financial arrangement with. I would only be guessing but i am one who believes there are a lot more undisclosed relationships between the 2 mayors, past P&Z members and many other developers. I also believe others know about such activities and are complicit by staying silent. You have every right to your feelings but pretending nothing happened or being silent and tolerant are qualities that most residents in this town are not in favor of, in fact we want more disclosure and facts.

    • Nobody can pretend nothing happened. I’ve read so much negative stuff already, in the last week, and it’s only getting worse. There’s only one way the volume is going to go down, only one way the “Boca Brand” isn’t going to keep getting damaged. Did I need to be more explicit in what I think that one way is?

  6. A few mistakes filling out a form? Sounds like “texting while governing.” She should step down, but Mayor Haynie’s actions and votes weren’t the only ones that have caused damage to the city’s reputation and image. The recent municipal election trends reveal how the populace feels–an unknown, late-coming, sparsely-funded candidate nearly beat an incumbent and another well known candidate was beaten by a newcomer. Boca’s reputation? There must be no problem with Boca’s reputation, otherwise this city would be shunned by developers. There’s so much interest in this “developers paradise” that one of them is suing the city because his/her development plan was impeded. I worry more about those who live here now–traffic congestion, streets that become concrete canyons, buildings that resemble prisons, and overcrowded schools (that have been this way for years).

    • Whether it’s popular with developers or or not isn’t the issue. What matters is the folks, the new people and businesses that are the prospect renters and the prospect buyers. If they get a bad taste in their mouths about Boca, whether it’s unfair to us all or not, those units are going to be more difficult to fill – more unoccupied storefronts and less taxes being collected. The developers are clearly hungry for Boca, true. But it’s their ability to sell Boca as a place to live and work that isn’t helped by bad PR like the kind being generated around Susan Haynie.

      • So, your concern is for the developers and the new renters/owners of the high-priced, densely-built housing? What about the people who moved here because of the local, small town flavor of BR–a rarity here in S. FL? If the variances weren’t provided and deals made behind closed doors perhaps we would have a town whose reputation would still be highly regarded as a great place to live vs a great place to invest. BTW, it’s not bad “PR” around the mayor, it’s the facts revealed. The PR–more like propaganda–is trying to downplay what she and other council members have been doing for years.

    • I agree, I would not at all be concerned with Boca’s reputation. Ms. Haynie just does not have that much power (even if she believes she does). The recent City Council voting spoke volumes in terms of how residents feel. We are all human and sometimes use poor judgement and make mistakes that we regret, and hopefully this becomes a learning experience. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. I was just reading an article today….”Never Underestimate the Power of Self Awareness.”

  7. What happened to representing the peoples’ wishes? If we wanted Boca to be like Ft Lauderdale we would have lived in Ft Lauderdale. The traffic on A1A is a constant flow these days and the rest of town the same. Less taxes being collected means there should be less spending. There is an insatiable desire on the politicos part to spend other peoples’ money on things that are not in the best interest of the people.
    Hainey in the simplest terms is a crook and she should go.

  8. Ditto Leon, maybe we should stop building so the store fronts fill up. As a Boca resident for 42 years our politicians and the planning and zoning board sold us out for years. For what $$$$ maybe, probably. People love Boca Raton, we are mentioned on tv shows and movies how bad of a reputation do you think we have? Haynie just got caught she needs to go.

  9. Hello I had to work. went to vote. traffic jam took over 45 minutes so i went to the library and tried to vote there instead
    sorry she said. go back to The senior center now out of time. evening went to vote stuck in traffic. Never voted.
    and thousands didn’t vote either for what ever reason .. Let’s work harder on that. I stupidly didn’t know there was early voting for that race for the seats and so much more. I’m sorry for failing you all . won’t happen again

  10. “…just going back to be our neighbor again?”
    Sounds like Mr. Rodgers – garbage.
    Filled out forms incorrectly?
    More garbage.
    Anyone who sits on a decision making board, whether it be political or business related, knows if a discussion and/or a vote on a subject is conducted on any matter that is connected personally to the board member or a member of his/her immediate family; that board member should announce the conflict and should not participate in the matter in any way. To do so is an act of corruption.

  11. Advocating she step aside cause her enemies found a minor form error empowers her enemies and allows them to win

    She should double down and FIGHT. FIGHT for what’s right. FIGHT for her reputation and FIGHT for Boca

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