The passing of an appropriations bill turned into a debate on advocacy during Fort Lauderdale’s City Commission meeting Tuesday evening.
Commissioner Steve Glassman proposed that when sending the appropriations bill to the city’s lobbyists representing them in Tallahassee, the resolutions the commission has passed should be attached. This would include support for trans athletes and abortion rights.
However, Vice Mayor Heather Moraitis and Commissioner Robert McKinzie were opposed to the idea, with the former going as far as offering to step down from her role representing Fort Lauderdale with the Broward and Florida League of Cities.
“Just please know that I probably won’t advocate some of the social issues I disagree with, but I will certainly advocate for the appropriations requests,” she said. “I’m also happy, if you feel like I misrepresent this body, to step aside and let one of you all do it.”
McKinzie said, “I don’t blame you.”
Glassman told the commission that their resolutions “should have some teeth,” hence his proposal to provide them to their lobbyists. McKinzie said that the advocacy and appropriations are two separate things — he called resolutions “a philosophical nothing piece of paper” — and Moraitis warned that they could jeopardize the city’s chances of receiving funding if they press too hard on the social issues.
“I’m concerned about our appropriation request if we’re going to go start advocating a lot of positions that may be against the majority party,” she said.
Commissioner Ben Sorensen said the city is already doing that, citing Fort Lauderdale’s plastic bag and Styrofoam bans and firearms regulations.
The appropriations bill passed 3-2, with Moraitis and McKinzie voting against it.
The commission hasn’t passed its resolutions on social issues unanimously, either. Moraitis voted against the commission’s April resolution against the state’s trans athlete ban.
“We fought long and hard for equality. Now that we’re almost there, we’re going to change the rules to allow the biologically stronger men to replace females on the field or pool or wherever you are competing,” she said at the time.
When Carvelle Estriplet, a local business owner who is trans, spoke before the commission at the next meeting about transgender women being women, Moraitis told her, “I do have to say I think you have a physical advantage over me, being born a biological female.”
“Do you want to stand next to me? Do you want to compare? Do you want to arm wrestle me?” Moraitis continued. “I do believe men are biologically stronger.”
In September, the commission passed another resolution in opposition to Texas’ restrictive abortion law. Moraitis voted against it while McKinzie was excused.