A somewhat outdated phrase from days gone by, used to express surprise and astonishment.

“Great Scott”— it’s the perfect phrase to use after Tuesday’s City Commission meeting.  Our Island City Mayor Scott Newton finished a long debate with a surprise rebuttal to Commissioner Gary Resnick’s diatribe of how city staff mishandled bringing two very important ordinances through the process.

Great Scott! Words came rushing out deep within me — finally someone calling out the baseless rhetoric coming from Commissioner Resnick. Years, not months, of waiting, years of public meetings, years of changes, years of delays, and years of listening to Commissioner Resnick claim that the process was somehow deficient, that staff did not do a good job of informing the public, that this was wrong and that was wrong.

Finally last night, before the final vote, having heard from all the commissioners' final comments, Mayor Scott Newton had his opportunity and seized it masterfully and courageously.

I am sure many in the chambers, city management, and those following at home on Zoom let out a similar gasp of surprise and astonishment.

Many perked up and were reminded why we voted for Scott to be our mayor in the first place — leadership.  Leadership is not an easy road and Newton could have chosen not to make such a robust statement that night. However there are times when honesty and decency need to make a stand and last night was one of those times.

I thank you Scott Newton, residents throughout our city thank you, and I am sure that our hard-working and dedicated city staff thank you. Great job Scott Newton.

Fellow members of our City Commission deserve credit and recognition of their steadfast commitment to our city and its future. Commissioner Mike Bracchi demonstrated his commitment to making the tough decisions we elect our public officials for in the first place.  Getting past the misinformation, the accusations by some during Public Comments of retribution, and the divisiveness over the past year, Commissioner Bracchi looked at the facts, listened to the consultants, listened to residents, listened to city staff and understands the tough choices our city needs to make to bring us securely into future sustainability.

Similarly, Commissioner Chris Caputo and Vice Mayor Paul Rolli were equally engaged, informed, and looked to move the process along to final approval. Both at times expressing confusion and disagreement at comments made by Commissioner Resnick along the way. On a few occasions reminding Commissioner Resnick that the information he was questioning was all in the backup material and to ask what was the point of such obstruction — any inquiry at such a stage in the process.

Many thanks to our four elected officials who voted to approve the very important ordinances on Tuesday night. The first ordinance is the creation of the TOC-West, which changes the zoning along the Andrews Avenue and Oakland Park Blvd corridor. The second ordinance was much more detailed and included issues such as density, height restrictions and permitted usage and was much more contentious. Both ordinances reached this final stage with many years of input, Planning & Zoning meetings, community outreach, commission hearings, changes based on public input, compromise, and adjustments. Final passage on Tuesday night was a culmination of much input and discussion.

We don’t always get what we want, but we should be able to work together, compromise when needed, and be able to do what is right and necessary for our community. That is what makes us a great city. Commitment and professionalism of our city staff make us a great city. Active community involvement makes us a great city.

Commissioner Bracchi, Commissioner Caputo and Vice Mayor Rolli make us a great city. And yes, Commissioner Resnick over the years has helped make us a great city, however one must question what his recent obstructionisms are all about.

And finally, our Mayor Scott Newton, with his wonderous finale on Tuesday night, deserves the exclamation of surprise and astonishment of, “Great Scott.”

The passage of these very important two ordinances this past Tuesday night will ensure that life in our Island City will remain 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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