I have long given up hope that the current occupant of the White House would climb the stairs to the attic, dig out Truman’s old desk sign, and finally take some responsibility for the mess our world has become.
“The Buck Stops Here” has been taught throughout the years in American History classes to school children. We have grown up expecting that our leaders and those in a position of power have a duty and a responsibility to take direct responsibility and not look to pass the blame unto others.
However, my thoughts on where the buck should stop did not originate from the daily blame game that has become the norm of this current presidency. My thoughts on this topic are much more local and have to do with the recent article published in the Wilton Manors Gazette, written by Sallie James, having to do with our local elections and residency requirements.
Sallie’s excellent article deals with the false claims of residency by City Commission candidate Joseph Sansone. Inquiries made by the reporter to both Wilton Manors City Clerk’s Office and to the Broward Board of Elections made it clear that there are no plaques stating “The Buck Stops Here” on any of the desks in these two offices. It appears that city staff blindly accept all qualifying papers as long as they are signed and dated, without any interest as to what is stated within. Just doesn’t sound right now, does it? Why have forms where nobody actually verifies the accuracy of the information? The more you think about it, the more it gets under your skin, especially if you are one of the other candidates who does everything correctly and abides by the “rules.”
Not being able to wrap my head around all this, I made inquiries myself. Certainly, some piece of this puzzle was missing. It now appears that this seasoned veteran of city facts and tidbits has still much to learn and can still be shocked by the news from our City Hall.
According to our City Clerk, their office serves just an administrative function of accepting and publishing the candidates’ forms. It is not their job to validate if a candidate qualifies or has given truthful information or not. WOW! That is shocking to me.
In the case of Mr. Sansone, who clearly does not reside at the empty shell of a house on NW 25th Street, he also failed to properly fill out the Financial Statement that is part of the qualifying packet that nobody actually checks.
The Financial Statement asks for Source of Income and to list interest in other businesses, none of which Mr. Sansone felt a need to disclose, showing no source of income or interest in other businesses such as the LLC which actually owns the property he is claiming as his residence.
All the other candidates listed income sources and other required information. So how fair is this whole process to these individuals?
Our city is established and governed by the Wilton Manors City Charter. Within this charter, Article lllA, Section 2 states that, “A commission candidate shall be domiciled in the city for six (6) months prior to qualifying for office.” Now you think that someone in our city government would have the responsibility to ensure that all aspects of our city charter are being legally monitored and adhered to. We have a requirement stated clearly in our city’s charter, along with Financial Statements requiring specific information, all not being reviewed by anyone in our city government. Even if we look past whose responsibility it is to validate the information, we should at least expect the forms to be filled out without any missing information, whether to be correct or not. Unfortunately, that is not the opinion of our City Clerk’s Office, whose stated remedy falls to residents’ actions and the courts.
“Anyone has the right to retain counsel and challenge false claims in court,” was the answer I received. Not what I was expecting.
Oh well, guess it’s up to us residents of our Island City to be on the lookout for charlatans, carpetbaggers, and others who come out of nowhere seeking to run for office.
We are on our own to ask the questions, to uncover the truth and to demand that our city charter be upheld. Perhaps a group of residents will need to start a GoFundMe page each election cycle so that funds are available to retain counsel and go to court in order to have a candidate actually tell the truth, meet residency requirements, and properly and completely fill out required forms.
This is another example of why a local newspaper is so vital to protecting our community. Thank you once again, SFGN, for publishing the Wilton Manors Gazette.
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