Survivors of abuse by priests plan to rally today in front of Palm Beach Diocese

At least two people who say they were abused by priests plan to hold a rally today in front of the Palm Beach Diocese offices in Palm Beach Gardens.

Father John Gallagher says he was punished by Catholic Church for blowing the whistle on a pedophile priest. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Father John Gallagher says he was punished by Catholic Church for blowing the whistle on a pedophile priest. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

The local members of SNAP — the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests — say they will “blast” Bishop Gerald Barbarito, leader of the Palm Beach diocese, for allegedly retaliating against a whistleblower priest who called law enforcement when a colleague admitted child sex crimes.

Father John Gallagher, the whistleblower priest who claims he was “frozen out” by the diocese, said he will not attend the rally.

SNAP members will will hold signs and childhood photos at 1:30 p.m. in front of the offices at 9995 N. Military Trail.

 

 

West Palm priest says Catholic church punishing him for blowing whistle

 

Father John Gallagher in 2008.
Father John Gallagher in 2008.

A West Palm Beach priest said he has been “frozen out” by the Catholic church for blowing the whistle on a priest who was arrested last year for showing pornographic photographs to a 14-year-old boy, according to a report.

 

Father John Gallagher told the Irish Independent that he was placed on medical leave by his bishop in the Diocese of Palm Beach after ignoring church orders to cover up the case and instead alerting the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office about Father Jose Palimattom .

In a statement issued at 4:30 Monday afternoon, the diocese denied Gallagher’s assertions. deeming them “completely inaccurate” and adding, “Father Gallagher’s reassignment was not related to the incident with the visiting priest.”

Palimattom was sentenced to six months in jail and one year of probation on a charge of showing obscene material to a minor, according to court records. The alleged victim told a friend who reported the incident to the church choirmaster who then told Gallagher.

PBSO Chief Deputy Michael Gauger wrote a letter to Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley in support of Father Gallagher.

Gallagher has been living with a friend after the locks on his parochial house in West Palm Beach were changed.

“This is now 2016 and this is what happens to whistleblowers in the Catholic Church,’’ Gallagher told the Irish Independent.

“Pope Francis speaks of ridding our church of the crimes of sexual abuse and being open and honest about doing it. I haven’t seen that in Pope Francis’s Church yet.”

 

 

Saying goodbye to a baseball brother

We said goodbye to our baseball brother Thursday night.

For 15 years, we vigorously competed with each other every day to be the first to break news.

With Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez at Shea Stadium in New York City, (L-R) Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com and Juan Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
With Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez in 2008 before the last game at Shea Stadium in New York City, (L-R) Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com and Juan Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Along the way, we forged a brotherhood of sorts – an unusual one considering that we were four baseball writers of different ages and backgrounds working for different media outlets.

I started covering the Marlins for The Palm Beach Post in 1999, roughly the same time that Clark Spencer started covering the team for the Miami Herald and Juan Rodriguez for the Sun Sentinel. Joe Frisaro came on the beat for mlb.com in 2002.

Until June of 2013, when I moved from the Marlins beat to the Palm Beach Post’s Metro Department, the four of us were a family of sorts for eight months every year. From spring training in February to the final game of the season in September or October, we often spent more time together than we did with our own families.

We sat within an arm’s reach of each other in the press box, through yawners and thrillers, no-hitters and World Series games and, until the team moved to Marlins Park in 2012, countless rain delays. We participated in pre-game and post-game interviews with more than 10 years of managers and players – from Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett to Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez.

Juan Rodriguez was proud to wear a pink Breast Cancer Awareness -- worn every year by Major League Baseball Players -- during a Marlins game in Los Angeles in 2013.
Juan Rodriguez was proud to wear a pink Breast Cancer Awareness band — worn every year by Major League Baseball Players — during a Marlins game in Los Angeles in 2013.

We often took the same flights to cities where the Marlins played. We usually shared taxi and subway rides to ballparks, along with too many lunches and dinners to remember.

Somehow, we managed to stay professional and friendly with each other, too – something that doesn’t always happen among competing beat writers in other baseball markets.

Each of us brought a peculiar personality to the mix, and I am convinced that the key ingredient to our unique chemistry was Juan Rodriguez.

He was the most quiet member of our group and probably the most talented — and the most humble. He had a gentle, laid-back demeanor that allowed him to develop key sources, consistently find fresh angles and work gracefully under the most intense deadline pressure.

Juan was the youngest in our group, too, which made it all the more tragic when we watched him collapse in the media room at the annual MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville in December 2012 – the first sign we had of what would result in a diagnosis of Grade IV glioblastoma multiforme.

Juan had surgery the next day in Nashville to remove a tumor from his brain. He was given six months, but he eventually returned to the beat and lived another three years.

Juan Rodriguez and retired Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell in 2013 at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.
Juan Rodriguez and retired Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell in 2013 at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.

Not once did we ever hear him complain “why me?”

He died Monday at the age of 42, leaving behind his wife, Tiffany, and their two children, Laura, 14, and Ryan, 12.

We gathered Thursday night to say goodbye at a Celebration of Life Service that served as a testament to how much he was loved and respected by friends, colleagues and the people he wrote about as a beat writer for more than 15 years.

More than 100 people attended the service at Christ the Rock Community Church in Cooper City, including Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who knew Juan as a Marlins coach and manager. Fredi flew in from Atlanta to pay his respects.

Also in attendance: Marlins general manager Mike Hill, assistant general manager Brian Chattin, former Marlins GM Larry Beinfest, retired Marlins traveling secretary Bill “Boomer” Beck, Marlins vice president P.J. Loyello, the staff from the Marlins media relations department and Marlins radio play-by-play announcer Glenn Geffner.

Mike Berardino, a former Sun Sentinel baseball writer who spent several years covering the Marlins with Juan, flew in from Minnesota to deliver a eulogy.

Outside the Marlins clubhouse at Sun Life Stadium, rapper Pitbull is flanked by (L-R) Clark Spencer, Juan Rodriguez and Joe Capozzi.
Outside the Marlins clubhouse at Sun Life Stadium, rapper Pitbull is flanked by (L-R) Clark Spencer, Juan Rodriguez and Joe Capozzi.

Other speakers included Sun Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde (who wrote a wonderful tribute to Juan) and Juan’s three long-time Marlins beat-writer brothers.

Most speakers walked to the podium alone. Clark, Joe and I walked up together and stood together. We were surrounded by Juan, whose image covered the front of the altar in dozens of photographs – portraits, pictures with his wife and two children, and images with his baseball family.

There were tears, but also plenty of laughter. Juan would have wanted it that way.

His legacy will live on in everyone he touched, including the beat writers who forged a unique baseball brotherhood with him, because he made all of us better.

We will always miss him and we will never forget him.

 

What’s that smell? Ballpark construction unearths pungent reminders of trash dump

When it opens in 2017, the smells of baseball will permeate the air — grass (ballfields), leather (gloves), cowhide (baseballs) along with popcorn and maybe even cigar smoke.

But for now, the construction site at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches at time smells like something else — a trash dump.

That’s because a team of tractors has been digging up long-buried mounds of trash on the 160-acre site, which was used as a landfill from about 1955 until 2000.

Workers use front loaders to mine former land fill that will become major league baseball spring training facilities in West Palm Beach, Thursday, January 14, 2016. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post
Workers use front loaders to mine former land fill that will become major league baseball spring training facilities in West Palm Beach, Thursday, January 14, 2016. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post

The trash mounds have been covered by dirt and grass for several decades. But when construction started Nov. 10, tractors disturbed those mounds, releasing not-so-sweet landfill odors.

So far, crews have not heard any complaints from residents living around the site, which is south of 45th Street between Haverhill Road and Military Trail. But onsite, where the public is not allowed, the trash smells can be evident, especially if the wind is blowing.

The so-called “mining” of the trash mounds is expected to last until about April, when the site will be cleared of debris and ready for vertical construction.

The Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are scheduled to move in to the $144 million complex a year from now.

 

Seth Adams shooting: Judge allows case to go forward against PBSO

The Seth Adams family lawsuit against the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office will be allowed to go to trial, a federal judge ruled today.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley denied Sgt. Michael Custer’s motion to toss the suit, but threw out some of the family’s more minor claims.

Overall, the decision was a victory for Adams’ family, who filed the suit after Adams, 24, was shot and killed by an undercover deputy in 2012. Adams was unarmed and on his own property, a nursery in Loxahatchee Groves.

Custer claimed that Adams fought him and grabbed him around the neck, prompting the deputy to shoot and kill Adams.

The incident is one of the most controversial shootings in the department’s history.

Read more

A Sandy Koufax for a Bob Weisman? Baseball cards of key players in West Palm spring training project

To help illustrate our story on how politicians and community leaders worked behind the scenes with the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals to bring spring training back to West Palm Beach, we could have used simple portraits of the key players.

But Gurman Bhatia, the Post’s data intern, had a better idea: Baseball cards.

She looked over some of the classic styles from Topps Baseball Cards over the past 60 years for inspiration.

They might not be worth trading for a rookie Mickey Mantle card, but she sure had fun making them!

Check out the complete set here. A brief preview follows below:

 

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Houston Astros owner Jim Crane’s baseball card suggests the 1953 style.

 

 

 

 

 

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Washington Nationals general partner Art Fuccillo got a card that brings back memories of the 1954 style.

 

 

 

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The card for former Palm Beach County Administrator Bob Weisman suggests the 1962 style.

 

 

 

 

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Palm Beach Gardens City Manager Ron Ferris’ card invokes memories of the 1980 style.

 

 

 

 

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Bhatia, who is from India, knows more about cricket than baseball. But she learned enough about baseball cards to make her own in the style of the 1972 set.

 

 

 

Smartphone photography class at Grassy Waters Preserve

Grassy Waters Preserve is hosting nature photography classes next weekend exclusively for smartphone cameras.

Eastern edges of Grassy Waters Preserve. Photo by Joe Capozzi via iPhone 6s.
Eastern edges of Grassy Waters Preserve. Photo by Joe Capozzi via iPhone 6s.

The classes are Jan. 16 and Jan. 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The fee is $40 for members of the Grassy Waters Preserve Conservancy and $50 for non-members.

The class is open to all levels of smartphone photographers. Each class is limited to 20 students. As of Wednesday, there were four spots open for Jan. 16 and 14 spots open for Jan. 17.

The class will be taught by Raymond Gehman, a freelance photographer for National Geographic. It will start with an Apple-based classroom presentation, followed by 2-hour photo shoot outside at Grassy Waters Preserve.

To register, go to the Grassy Waters Preserve website. Any questions, email Richard Stone at rstone@grassywaters.org.

$500 million Powerball jackpot is big for a reason: the odds are worse

Lottery player
Wislande Cosmeus helps a customer get a few tickets for tonight’s $500 million dollar Powerball jackpot at the 7-Eleven convenience store on Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach on January 6, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

(Reporter’s update at 1:20 p.m.: The estimated jackpot has increased from $450 million to $500 million today.)

At an estimated $500 million, tonight’s Powerball drawing could be one of the largest U.S. lottery jackpots ever.

And that’s partly because last year, the people who run Powerball made it harder to win the top prize, increasing the already-impossible odds to create bigger and bigger jackpots.

RELATED: POST INVESTIGATION: Gaming the Lottery

Why? Because the lotteries will make more money. Larger jackpots generate more attention, both from the media and the public, which generates more sales.

Lotteries who participate in Powerball downplay this by saying that your odds of winning something besides the largest jackpot are better. In a glowing Florida Lottery press release from October, when the changes were made, the lottery couldn’t even bring itself to call the odds “worse.” Instead, it said the odds were “extended.”

But really, the odds of winning something aren’t much better. The odds of winning $4 on your $2 bet went from 1 in 111 to 1 in 92.

Meanwhile, the odds of winning the top jackpot went from 1 in 175,223,510 to 1 in 292,201,338.

To be fair, though, the previous odds were so remote that playing it was still a fool’s errand.

Overall, the move is a gimmick by lotteries that have experienced slowing sales, Aaron Abrams, an associate math professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, told NorthJersey.com in July.

“It’s certainly a short-term fix, and you can see they’ve changed the rules over and over and over again. They come up with gimmicks,” Abrams said. “Lotteries are in business and they’re in business to make money, and this is marketing. They change the game in an attempt to get attention and spur sales, generate interest and get people excited about the lottery.”

So how did the Multi-State Lottery Association, which manages Powerball, make the odds worse?

To win the Powerball jackpot, you have to correctly pick five numbers, plus a sixth “Powerball” number, generated from a ball machine.

Before, the first five numbers ranged from 1 to 59. Now, they range from 1 to 69. Meaning, the chances became worse.

The sixth “Powerball” number did get better, though. It used to range from 1 to 35. Now it’s between 1 and 26.

If you’re still inclined to play, though, you might take solace in this fact: Florida, which has hosted the Powerball drawings since it started selling the game in 2009, has had more winners than any other state.

Mural mystery: Was graffiti overt vandalism or a publicity stunt?

Call it a mural mystery.

Sometime over the holidays, someone spray painted the words “This is not art” across a mural that was part of Canvas Outdoor Museum, an art festival in downtown West Palm Beach in November.

A day or two before New Year's Day, someone spray painted "This is not art" on this mural.
A day or two before New Year’s Day, someone spray painted “This is not art” on this mural.

The graffiti wasn’t up for very long. The Downtown Development Authority removed it a day or two ago, so the mural – on the back of a building at 330 Clematis Street — is back to normal.

But the incident raises questions. Was it vandalism or a publicity stunt by the artist? And if it was indeed vandalism, might it discourage artists from participating in future outdoor art programs?

The pink mural, which is visible from Datura Street, shows three cartoon faces with dollar bills in the mouth, eyes and ears – a play off the saying “Speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil.’’

It was painted by Los Angeles-based artist Kai Guetta, who goes by “Kai.’’ Go to the artist’s website, kaiart.com, and the cover page includes a curious marketing headline: “This is not art.’’

The mural as it looked Monday at noon -- a day or so after the graffiti was removed.
The mural as it looked Monday at noon — a day or so after the graffiti was removed.

Guetta said he had nothing to do with the graffiti and was discouraged to learn that his mural had been defaced.

“It’s kind of ironic because I have a commercial name, ‘This is not art.’ It’s weird,’’ he said.

He suggested that one of his admirers might have been responsible for “tagging” the mural. “If I would have done it, I would have at last made the lettering pretty,’’ he said.

Before the graffiti was removed, Guetta, who is in Los Angeles, said he hoped local artists or the DDA would repair the mural by painting over the graffiti.

But he is worried the vandalism will prompt local officials to remove his mural.

In November, Guetta claimed that Canvas organizer Nicole Henry told him the mural would have to be painted over because it was too controversial.

“She said, ‘I think we’re going to have to paint your wall white. A lot of people in the city are upset with the mural and don’t like it,’’’ said Guetta, who mentions the incident on his website.

Henry denied making that comment. She said she only told Kai that the mural was different from what organizers were expecting him to paint, but she never threatened to remove it.

Still, Guetta said, “My biggest fear is that because someone didn’t want it a couple of months ago, now they will use this (graffiti) as an excuse to paint over it.’’

Guetta does take artistic freedoms when it comes to promoting himself. For example, he prefers not to have photographs taken showing his face. He prefers to doctor the photos so a cartoon or white circle appears over his face.

Artist Kai Guetta poses in November front of his work-in-progress. He insisted on his face being whited out to promote his anonymity.
Artist Kai Guetta poses in November front of his work-in-progress. He insisted on his face being whited out to promote his anonymity.

Henry said there are no immediate plans to paint over any of the murals. But she said some could be covered with new murals as part of Canvas 2016, which is tentatively set for downtown West Palm Beach from Nov. 11-20.

None of the other large murals from Canvas 2015 have been vandalized. But a small typewriter stencil by the artist Wrdsmith was smeared with gold paint in late November. That stencil, called “Love letter” appeared at the bottom left of the Kai mural.

“Street art is not permanent art. It is always changing,’’ Henry said. “Sometimes it changes legally and sometimes it changes illegally.

“I hope everyone in this city can respect these murals because these are some of the most respected artists from around the world.’’

Vandals shattered beer bottles against one outdoor mural in November, in the final days of the Canvas festival.

But Raphael Clemente, the DDA’s executive director, said he agrees with Henry’s contention that the vandalism will not discourage artists from participating in the next Canvas event.

“There’s been a lot of graffiti all around the city. I see it all over the place but I don’t think this is anything more than just taggers, a bunch of young kids who wanted some notoriety,’’ Clemente said.

Many of the Canvas artists “are not ignorant to the fact that their art is in the public realm,’’ he said.

“They’re street artists. They know there are people out there who are jealous of their work.’’