This article started out as a tribute to our long-serving City Commissioner Tom Green.
Unfortunately, I cannot help myself from last minute changes after Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting. Let us first start off with my original thoughts and then move on to address what took place at the meeting.
There is no shortage of anxiety and uncertainty looming over this Election Day. One bit of certainty comes the morning of Nov. 4 is that Wilton Manors will have a new mayor and two new city commissioners. Unfortunately for Wilton Manors our Acting Mayor and long-serving City Commissioner Tom Green will no longer be sitting up on the dais.
Tom Green decided to retire and his seat will be one of two being filled this Election Day by a crowded field of six candidates. Tom ends an amazing 12-year run on our City Commission and leaves behind much to be proud of in our Island City. A champion of the environment, of protecting our residential neighborhoods, of LGBT rights, workers’ rights and so much more, his shoes will be hard to fill.
Tom Green’s activism for LGBT rights mirrors that movement’s history here in Broward County. An early member of the Tuesday Evening Group, which played a pivotal role of political activism here in Broward back when being out and gay was just a bit different than today. The early days of LGBT activism were a handful of people meeting at a member’s condo near the beach. The cast of players grew into what we all know as the Dolphin Democratic Club with trailblazers such as Tom Green, Dean Trantalis, and Jim Stork along with so many more people throughout the years who continue to carry the banner of equality and justice for all members of our society.
Tom can teach some of the newcomers to city politics a few good lessons. First lesson to our slate of candidates, before running for office, join as many of our city’s associations and non-profits as you can. Tom continues to support our area neighborhood associations, the Friends of the Library, the Kiwanis Club, the Historical Society and many others. Taking part in your community is a good first step in winning over resident voters.
Now on to Tuesday’s events at our City Commission meeting. The discussion of more diversity on City boards and committees has been a topic of discussion for some time now. Both Commissioners Rolli and Resnick made a point of bringing this topic up while voting to fill vacancies on the Wilton Drive Improvement District. First of all, this board is restricted to property owners, business owners and one resident within the Wilton Drive business district. Out of the three applicants who applied for the three positions of this limited pool of possible applicants, two were white males and one Hispanic female. Not sure why these two commissioners choose this time to make such a statement over diversity when there was really some diversity in the applicants.
Commissioner Resnick crossed the line of decency when publicly chastising Commissioner Julie Carson for not appointing someone to the Charter Review Committee more than a year ago that was someone other than a white male. In all fairness not one of the five commissioners back then, including Gary Resnick, appointed anyone other than a white male. So why is it Julie’s fault? Does she shoulder more responsibility and blame because she is a woman? Gary, why did you not appoint someone other than a white male?
There is an old saying that “People in glass houses should not throw stones.” If Commissioner Resnick is so ready to throw stones, then its fair game to question his appointee as well. Where were Commissioner Resnick’s concerns about diversity when he appointed his friend, a white male, to the same board that he attacked Julie Carson for? Double standard perhaps?
The discussion on achieving more diversity on our city boards and committees is a good one for us to have. Finding new ways to reach out and bring a more diverse group of residents into the process is a worthy endeavor. However, we cannot ignore the demographics of our small city nor should we look to appoint just anyone who might step forward because they satisfy some concept of diversity in the mind of a white male commissioner.
True diversity isn’t just about gender, or race. It requires diversity of thought, and creating room for opposing and varied views. This is something, I believe, Commissioner Resnick is not truly ready to deal with, since he is so quick to lash out at those who choose to have a difference of opinion.
This will certainly be a topic of further discussion as we move past Election Day and on to our new mayor and city commissioners. So for now, cheers to you Tom Green! Your commitment, involvement and lasting achievements to our Island City have much to do with why we can say, “Life is just better here!”
Sal Torre has been a columnist for the Wilton Manors Gazette since its inception. Sal has served on the Wilton Drive Task Force, Budget Review Advisory Board, and Charter Review Board, among others. Sal is currently President of the Westside Association of Wilton Manors and Secretary for the Friend of the Wilton Manors Library. He is employed with Broward County in the Human Services Division.