Many Islanders have been keeping late hours over the past few days.

Volunteers leading up to the Stonewall Pride event worked many late hours getting ready for the big day. Many after the tragic event at the beginning of the parade have been unable to sleep soundly still dealing with what was witnessed that unfortunate evening. Certainly this rings true to the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus family, who have suffered unimaginable loss and tragedy.

What happened Saturday night Pride event reminds us all how precious our time here is on earth, and how at any moment our lives can change in ways we have no control over.

Having volunteered to help set up the event earlier in the day, then ready to march later that day, my friend and I were enjoying the amazing energy of the day and the festivities. As we lined up ready to begin the march down a packed Wilton Drive, our walking group from the Oakland Park Wilton Manors Democratic Club were all too close to the tragedy that unfolded right before us.

Totally caught up with the excitement of the moment with all the groups coming together as the parade started taking off, those right there were jolted out of our state of excitement by the sound of a reeving engine right next to us. In just a split second after that realization, we saw the truck racing right past us, only inches away, out into the street totally out of control, hitting one pedestrian, then another before crashing into the chain-link fence of the nursery business across the road.

In that brief moment my mind was trying to grasp what had happened.  Most of us right there believed it was a tragic accident and not some planned attack, hate crime, or terrorist attack as others began to speculate on social media.

We mourn for the victim, pray for those injured and our hearts go out to the driver and the chorus family so devastated by the tragic event. We grieve together as one community, we will march once again as one community and we will be stronger together as one community.

Thankfully over the next few days other matters here in our Island City deflected my attention from this tragic event and kept me from dwelling on what happened right in front of us. Happy to have this diversion, I involved myself wholeheartedly. The agenda on Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting was going to be contentious, with questions of zoning, density, and height restrictions to be decided for the future growth of our city.

Many in our community were once again motivated by misinformation and fear-mongering. These community leaders stated that they are not against development, however, one just has to look at the deteriorating vacant church property on NE 26th Street to see otherwise.  Many quality plans for that property have met fierce opposition by this band of eastsiders each and every time. If their idea of quality development means a park or even a cemetery as some have stated, then we have a big difference of opinion on what this city needs for its future.

Everyone was expecting a long night due to the number of people making Public Comments, the discussion by the Commission and getting through all the Ordinances. Everyone except Commissioner Gary Resnick it seems. At some point in the evening, Commission Resnick did not get his way and announced that at such a late hour it was meaningless to go any further and everything should be tabled to another meeting.

Thankfully no other Commissioner or our Mayor seconded Resnick’s motion. Now even more frustrated for not getting his way, Commissioner Resnick announced that he was leaving the meeting and signed off from Zoom leaving his colleagues, city staff and residents behind. Not what we should expect from our elected officials.

We elect people to office who we believe will serve the interest of our community, do what is right and what is necessary for the betterment of the community they serve. If keeping a few late nights is required to get the job done, then we expect that commitment.  Unfortunately, what we got from Commissioner Resnick was a temper tantrum for not getting his way as he stormed off, leaving us all behind.

Thank you Mayor Scott Newton, Vice Mayor Paul Rolli, Commissioners Mike Bracchi and Chris Caputo for doing the job we elected you to the office for. Burning the midnight oil, finishing the job, and making the tough decisions we elected you to do is what makes life just better here…

And the community that came together to celebrate Pride on Saturday, then mourned together after the tragic event and who understands the hard work it takes to build such a community is definitely what makes life 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.

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