For many reasons, I have chosen not to get involved with the Pride Center’s recent playground debacle. In addition, it seems like I have annoyed His Honor, Mayor Resnick, with my satirical piece last month. Try, try as I might not to discuss the lack of leadership at the Pride Center and in our Island City, I fear that I can no longer hold back, despite cautionary appeals from within, from taking the plunge.
Having to endure weeks of public attacks from Robert Boo following my Op-Ed, “Pride Center Needs to Come Out of the Closet,” and then having to spend time responding to claims of “fake news” and more, I have been a bit disinclined to reopen that whole chapter. Furthermore, I would rather not stroke the flames of those who claim that I have some type of vendetta against Robert Boo. My intent back then, as it is now, is just to ask for honest answers, answers to questions I hear many in our community asking. If mistakes and bad judgement were made, then our community leaders should be held fully responsible, just like Clarence Collins, the sex predator, who worked at the Pride Center, should be held responsible for his actions and bad judgement.
One shared attitude of both Robert Boo and Gary Resnick is to blame others, be it my articles, SFGN, and others. Nobody likes to be put on the spot, especially in a public forum; but this is the reality both of these community leaders have knowingly and willingly chosen by the positions they occupy. So instead of blaming unfavorable press coverage, stomping your feet like a spoiled child, and publically stating that you no longer read the publication in question, it might be a better idea to grow the hell up and deal with the issues with which you have been entrusted.
Robert Boo had no problem with SFGN when the paper awarded him Activist of the Year or allowed him two full pages to rebuke my 750-word article. Now he can’t return SFGN’s phone calls or answer requests for information regarding the playground debacle. Furthermore, he knew where to turn when he wanted to take full credit for the first Children’s Playground on a LGBT community center’s campus, SFGN. In that news coverage, Robert Boo stated, “The playground is to provide a safe space for same-sex parents to be able to bring their children.” Unfortunately, due to decisions made by Robert Boo, that space now has a very dark cloud over it.
If Robert Boo’s intent was to protect and help an elderly gentleman and known sex offender, who had worked and volunteered at the Pride Center for over ten years, then some might see that as a noble decision. People should be given the opportunity to serve their time and to become better members of society. However, rather than limit children’s activities at the Pride Center, Robert Boo actively courted corporate sponsors and LGBT family organizations for the new playground while knowing that this gentleman was employed at the Pride Center.
“Ignorantia juris non excusat.” Readers not versed in legal Latin might be scratching their heads, but Robert Boo should be well aware of this phrase as CEO of a major non-profit organization. It translates, ‘”ignorance of the law excuses not.” Furthermore, his explanation that he wasn’t aware of the severity of the crimes committed does not make the matter any better. How does one rate the severity of a sex offense against a minor? Robert’s job is not to construe Florida law to fit his opinions, but to lead the Pride Center and to abide by the laws of the State of Florida, of which it seems he might need some help understanding.
One endearing characteristic of a good political leader is that you’re a person of your word, that you follow through with promised or stated intentions. About two years ago, Mayor Resnick publically stated at his victory celebration at the Triangle Building that he would not be seeking re-election and that this would be his last term.
Many residents took the Mayor at his word, encouraged others to run and have endorsed someone other than Resnick. Now back-paddling, His Honor has announced that he is again seeking reelection and is wondering why no one is really too excited about such news.
Gary Resnick has made his choice. Rather than pass the torch to a new generation and to be recognized as the long-serving Mayor of our Island City, he chose to go against his word and become embattled in what will no doubt be a tough election. He cites the many issues that still need to be completed as the main reason he is seeking reelection. Gary has been in office well over 10 years. How long does it take for something to get accomplished? Voters in our Island City will make their choice this coming November.
In closing, Heidi Seigal, the Pride Center board member who resigned over the playground debacle, should be a shining beacon to us all, demonstrating that doing what is right and not looking the other way takes courage, sacrifice, and the highest duty to the greater community at large. Thank you Heidi for making life just better here.