Rob Long

Beyond the Bio: Rob Long

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An interview with Palm Beach Young Dems President Rob Long

By: Alex Heathcock

You’re from Punxsutawney, PA. What is your favorite thing about your hometown?

Mainly because of the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day,  a lot of people already know what Punxsutawney is and I don’t have to explain it. It’s taken on a sort of mythical reputation so it’s almost like telling people I grew up with Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny- making my childhood seemingly much more interesting than what it actually was.



What made you decide to move down to Florida from Pennsylvania?

Have you been to Pennsylvania?

You went to Penn State. I’m so sorry. (Apologies, this is Alex, and I have a clear Pitt bias.) What is your favorite memory of being a Penn State student?

Ha. Well, in recent memory it was our victory over Pitt at 51-6 on Sat. Yikes. Other than that, tailgating and going to Penn State games at Beaver Stadium...or even just watching them at one of the bars downtown. In general, going to a school with such a strong sense of spirit and identity was a really fun experience.

Where was your favorite place to go out in Happy Valley during your college days?

Probably the Rathskeller and the Phyrst. I guess I had a thing for dingy pubs back then.

What made you decide to get involved in politics?

I was raised with a sense of civic duty and social awareness sort of drilled into me. My dad was a very active civil rights attorney when we were kids and he used to do things like print out news articles for my brothers and I to read while we ate breakfast every morning. In a way, we were raised to be very aware of the injustices of the world. The only thing I ever remember him watching on TV was John Wayne movies and MSNBC. Anyway, for me it’s sort of a blessing and a burden that I don’t really feel fulfilled unless I’m somehow involved in trying to improve my community. Local politics seems like the most effective and possibly widest-scale way to do that.

A question for our President--who is your favorite United States President, living or deceased?

President Obama

What is your favorite alcoholic beverage?

I’m a sucker for old fashioneds and/or Manhattans (preferably made with rye whiskey.) Lately though, I’ve actually been on a Mezcal kick.

All of your fellow board members know you love a good old fashioned. What type of whiskey is your favorite?

My favorite Rye whiskeys right now are: Michter’s, High West, and Bulleit

Do you take your whiskey neat or on the rocks?

If it’s straight bourbon or rye, I like it with one big ice cube...or better yet a chunk of ice chiseled off of an ice block. If it’s scotch, neat.

What is the strangest/funniest way you’ve been asked out on a date?

I don’t really get asked on dates, I just randomly get phone numbers now and again...and I guess I’m supposed to take it from there. A girl a few rows behind me on plane passed me her phone number on a napkin once. I’ll get a number on my receipt from a waitress or bartender every once in a while.  

What is your favorite cuisine?

I like different things from different cuisines, hard to pick a favorite. Depends on my mood. I love sushi and ramen, I’m also a huge fan of Greek food, but I’d really do unspeakable things for good Neapolitan style pizza.  

If you could have one food from said cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I can’t imagine eating one of any one thing forever, that’s a nightmare. I would starve to death after 1 week.

You currently live in Delray Beach. Name your favorite thing about living in Delray.

I think Delray strikes a good balance between being a historic village/cultural center and also being up and coming, vibrant, and providing great nightlife options for young professionals...and Delray has an amazing beach.

In your opinion, where in Delray can one find the best old fashioned?

Either Death or Glory or Corner Porch (if our favorite bartender Erica is there)

Where is your favorite place to just hang out in Palm Beach County, that’s not at home?

Subculture Delray, it basically is my home now.

What is your go-to order at Subculture Coffee?

Black coffee (cold brew if I’m feeling saucy)

For a car ride jam out session with friends, what are five of your go-to songs?

Lucky Blade - Jacuzzi Boys, Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash, Weird Shapes - Surfer Blood, Make it Wit Chu - Queens of The Stone Age, and any song off the album Gawk - Vundabar

Best concert you’ve ever attended?

Queens of the Stone Age at the Fillmore

What is your favorite TV show?

House of Cards (I would’ve said Game of Thrones, were it not for the most recent season)

Who is your favorite character on said TV show?

Frank Underwood. RIP.

Which character do you think you’re most like on that TV show?

Claire Underwood.

What is your favorite movie?

This is tough, because I love a lot movies. Top 3: There Will Be Blood, Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid, and The Departed

Who is your favorite film director?

I have a few. Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, and a tie between Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson. Oh, and the Coen Brothers...

What is your favorite movie franchise?

Again, I guess I have several. I love the Bond franchise for nostalgic reasons and I respect how long it’s endured...that being said, a lot of those movies are terrible. Also, the Star Wars series with the exception of the prequels and The Last Jedi. Don’t @ me. I’m a total comic book nerd, so a HUGE fan of the MCU, the scope and vision of what they’ve created is incredible. Gamechanger.

The board is well aware of the fact that you’re a huge Marvel fan. What is your favorite Marvel movie?

Thor: Ragnarok is my most recent favorite. I love the Guardians movies too.

If you had access to own one of the infinity stones from the Marvel universe, which one would you choose and why?

Definitely the time stone, seems like the most versatile and you could use it to get the other stones. It’s like if you have a genie with 3 wishes, first wish-more wishes. Game the system.

If you had to have the superpowers of one Marvel superhero, what would you choose?

Thor, he’s a God...and he’s like 1,000 years old. He can also sort of fly. And he’s the tallest.

Who is someone that inspires you in local politics and why?

Dave Aronberg, our State Attorney. He’s accomplished a lot at a young age and he’s leading the charge against our opioid crisis...and I think paving the way nationally. He’s like equal parts class, charisma, and humility. He was also on John Oliver...

Where can we find you hanging out on the weekends?

Still at Subculture because I never stop working. Also, the beach.

Which sports teams do you support?

Nittany Lions and Gators, my alma maters. Also, the Steelers, and (reluctantly) Pitt basketball...only after they advance to the sweet 16

Where is your favorite place that you’ve traveled to?

I love visiting the Boulder/Denver area

Which fictional place do you wish you could travel to?

Pandora from Avatar. Like why do those islands float? ...there’s clearly normal gravity everywhere else.

What issues are you passionate about in our current political climate?

I think stand your ground needs to be overturned, I’d also love to see non-violent felons have their voting rights restored, and I’m very passionate about environmental protections.

Construct your perfect meal, using only dishes from Palm Beach County restaurants.

Charcuterie board from Death or Glory in Delray. Lobster roll from Over The Bridge in Delray. Oxtail from Rocksteady Jamaican Bistro in Boca. A rack of ribs from Ceasar’s in Delray. Some Duck chicharrones from Kapow in West Palm Beach. Ice Cream from Proper Ice Cream in Delray. Ok...so I don’t get outta Delray much. Also, include like any cocktail from Sweetwater in Boynton.

What hair products do you use to construct your ~flawless~ ‘do? (Alex Ayala asked that I not ask this question because it would only inflate your ego, but the world should know.)

Unfortunately, I’m sworn to secrecy. I can say the process involves industrial-grade lasers, a witch doctor, and an assortment of essential oils derived from deep within the Amazonian rain forest...and I can still get ready far quicker than Alex Ayala.  

You currently serve as a Palm Beach County Soil & Water Supervisor--what is your favorite part of serving in this position?

Ahem...Vice Chair. The Ambassador to the Everglades program where we transport 600 high school students to Mounts Botanical Gardens and the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge to learn about conservation is really awesome. Also, our staff does an incredible job with the irrigation surveys they perform all over the county, so I’m happy just to make sure they’re getting everything they need.

What is your favorite part of being President of PBCYD?

I love encouraging our generation to actually get out and make a difference and fight for what we all believe in. It’s been extremely rewarding to see how many people have come out of the woodwork recently that weren’t previously engaged in politics or public policy at all. People are just so outraged by what’s going on in our country and empowering them and just offering them that outlet has been great.

POINT OF VIEW: It doesn’t have to be business vs. the environment

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The time has come when the business interests and the environmental community in Palm Beach County must recognize that both sides have legitimate concerns that are critical to the long-term health of our county and state. These co-dependent interests often find themselves at odds as we attempt to find some balance between economic growth and conservation interests.

The business community believes that environmentalists all push for extreme regulations that create excessive costs and simply oppose almost any development as destructive. Unfortunately, environmental purists reinforce that view. Similarly, on the business side, comments are often made on the disconcerting realities of climate change, such as “the Atlantic Ocean is not rising”, “Saltwater intrusion in our aquifer is a myth” and “Climate change is a natural cycle, so we shouldn’t be concerned.” So, the issue in the 21st century, particularly in Palm Beach County, is how to create a rational dialogue and discuss what reasonable accommodations both sides can agree to.

Curtailing real estate investment on our barrier islands and other high-risk flood areas is an opportunity for a proactive compromise. As we inch closer to the next potential housing crisis, this time fueled by abandoned mortgages on homes increasingly inundated by flooding, let’s rethink our approach to waterfront real estate development. Long-term, we would do better to throttle certain development interests to sidestep or at least mitigate a potential economic meltdown.

Besides just building outside of flood zones, a mutually beneficial approach to development is “smart growth,” which is not a new concept in Palm Beach County. In an ongoing effort to preserve green space and limit urban sprawl, there has been an expanding population movement toward high-density development in more urban areas. Companies have slowly begun following the millennial talent pool into these sustainable cities all over the country. County businesses could benefit from migrating to these urban centers to engage this burgeoning workforce and at the same time preserve more farmland. Additionally, we could see a range of free ecological substitutes to engineered infrastructure solutions from maintaining more of this green space, like drinking water filtration and storage, erosion prevention along our canals, and flood protection.

Ultimately, the effect of the rising tides on the limestone and sand we call Florida will not distinguish between whose grandchildren are displaced by a massive migration of Miami-Dade County climate change refugees in the next 30 years. We need cooperation now. Fueled by rhetoric, the gap between business and environmental protection has widened and the danger continues to grow. Instead of having philosophical debates about owls and coal mines that serve neither side’s objectives, let’s refocus our dialogue on aligning our business and environment interests on risk mitigation and proactive infrastructure planning.

ROB LONG, DELRAY BEACH

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Editor’s note: Rob Long is supervisor of the Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation District.

Original post on here.

POINT OF VIEW: Why soil and water conservation should matter to you

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The traditionally nonpolitical Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) recently became much better known after November’s contentious Board of Supervisors election. The friction erupted over the SWCD’s Mobile Irrigation Lab.

The lab is a free, consultative service offered to local growers. Paid for through the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the lab provides technical analysis and recommendations to farms and nurseries regarding irrigation water management and efficiency. For the past 12 years, the lab has been conserving hundreds of millions of gallons of water per year in Palm Beach County, saving growers thousands of dollars and drastically reducing water usage estimates.

So far this year, the Mobile Irrigation Lab has documented actual savings of 78 million gallons from its over 100 visits to farmers and growers, with the potential to save over 150 million gallons by the end of the year. This conservation has a significant beneficial impact on irrigation runoff, water purity and utility pricing for county citizens.

Recently, the lab came under fire from several of the same SWCD supervisors elected to promote conservationism in our county. These supervisors want to privatize the “free” lab program, which would not only make these services unavailable to many small farms and nurseries but could also result in the loss of local SWCD jobs.

Fortunately, the Mobile Irrigation Lab program was recently rescued by a narrow vote margin and will remain a functional water and money-saving program for county residents, at least for now. However, instead of forcing the majority of the supervisors to spend valuable time justifying programs like the lab, which has consistently demonstrated quantifiable results, all SWCD supervisors should be seeking the money to institute other constructive programs, like the defunded Urban Mobile Irrigation Lab. That lab program used to bring the same preservation applications rendered by the agriculture-focused Mobile Irrigation Lab to residential irrigation systems, and consequently offered even more direct benefit to county residents.

It is important to know who the county’s SWCD supervisors are, and who is running to replace them. The SWCD deserves leaders who will fight to leverage this community’s resources to appropriately serve the needs of county residents.

ROB LONG, DELRAY BEACH

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Editor’s note: Rob Long is a member of the Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District’s Board of Supervisors.

Original post here.