Cathleen McDeavitt worked for Boynton Beach for more than 30 years and has sat on the employee pension board for nearly 20. She routinely reapplied this past week for her volunteer seat , but was initially turned down.
Commissioners also turned down Lucas Vogel, who wanted to join the planning and development board, and Terry Liams, who wanted to volunteer with the senior advisory board.
The commissioners, who are responsible for appointing board members, hadn’t yet checked their social media profiles and didn’t want to move forward amid pressure from residents to better screen applicants for city posts. A women’s group came to Tuesday’s commission meeting and asked for a method of preventing someone with offensive views from being appointed.
The three were “collateral damage,” Commissioner Joe Casello said, of the ongoing tensions caused by Cindy Falco-DiCorrado, whom he previously appointed to the Community Redevelopment Agency advisory board.
Falco-DiCorrado has been accused of being a white supremacist and spewing racist comments toward residents at the Dec. 5 meeting where the commission voted against becoming a sanctuary city. Falco-DiCorrado has said her comments were misunderstood and she didn’t mean any harm.
Alex Newell Taylor, who doesn’t live in Boynton, attended Tuesday’s meeting on behalf of the Women’s March Florida Palm Beach County chapter. She said it took her five minutes of looking at Falco-DiCorrado’s Facebook page to see the “extreme stances” she took on issues of race and immigration.
Commissioner Christina Romelus and Mayor Steven Grant agree that social media pages such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram should be checked before the commissioners appoint someone.
“I believe we have a duty to protect our citizens,” said Romelus, who pushed for the sanctuary city designation.
However, they didn’t receive enough support on Tuesday to move forward. But the topic could linger — the commissioners appoint residents to advisory boards at nearly every meeting. And residents who want to volunteer are typically hard to come by: seven of the 13 citizen boards have vacancies, according to the city’s website.
As for the three appointees they voted down, the commissioners after further discussion later voted for them.
“I think this whole thing is ridiculous. It spawned from an earnest concern and its turned into a freak show,” said Vice Mayor Justin Katz.
Many took offense to Falco-DiCorrado spreading misinformation on Facebook and residents called for her to be fired from her advisory board position after the comments she allegedly made at the commission meeting. Residents say Falco-DiCorrado told them to speak “better English” and “You’re lucky we brought you over as slaves, or else you’d be deported, too.”
Katz asked for her resignation, but she initially declined. She then resigned through an email on Sunday.
Casello, Katz and Commissioner Mack McCray thought asking for social media information was going too far.
“I think we need to let some dust settle down before we jump on this,” McCray said.