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One of the many reasons why life is just better here is due to the local news coverage provided to residents of our Island City.

SFGN’s local news supplement, the Wilton Manors Gazette, along with local newspaper, The New Pelican, provide a service that is growing ever scarcer throughout our nation. Local independent newspapers reporting on local issues and concerns continue to disappear, leaving community after community with no real local watchdog, no investigative reporting, no civic benefits.

The bleak picture is actually worse when you realize that of the remaining newspapers still in circulation around the United States, over half are owned by private equity firms or hedge funds. Once purchased, the staff and operating budgets are cut, local news coverage is sacrificed, and profits are siphoned off, leaving communities with nationally syndicated news articles and very little substance.

This is exactly what happened to the Sun Sentinel, with parent company Tribune Publishing being bought out by a private equity firm Alden Global Capital last year. This particular player is notorious for cutting staff, gutting newsrooms and slashing operating budgets. Not many reporters left to do any real investigative journalism on important local issues. Such bleak news highlights the importance for this community to support our local newspapers and support the businesses that advertise in them.

So, let us take a look at some local news. Big question surrounding Wilton Manors elections this year will be if former Mayor and current City Commissioner Gary Resnick will seek re-election or go out celebrating a very successful public service career over the last 24 years. Still months away from the filing deadline, Islanders will most likely have to wait a bit longer for an answer.

Speaking of elections, come voting day, Islanders will also have an opportunity to have their voices heard on the subject of term limits. City commissioners bypassed the recommendations from the Charter Review Board on the subject and drafted their own proposal that will now be on the ballot come November. Hopefully residents will reject the ballot referendum and continue to use their vote and the power of the ballot box as the means to decide who gets to serve and who does not. In our small very informed city, thanks to our local news coverage, imposing term limits is unnecessary and removes the will of our residents to choose who they want to have served our community.  

Much more attention needs to be on who we elect to serve on a state level — because if current state leaders continue to have their way, we will not have much local news to report on. Current legislative session continues to see bills introduced, and making it through to the governor’s desk, that takes away local control and jurisdiction on a whole slew of issues. State legislators have for years sponsored many bills that seek to preempt local control over important issues such as vacation rentals in our residential neighborhoods and local gun regulations. Now they want to empower businesses to use the threat of litigation against local regulations as a means to limit local control of what happens in our own communities. Not to mention losing any local control of what our children will be taught in schools, with bills such as SB 242 that forbids the teaching of our racial history and HB 1557, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This insanity called the Parental Rights in Education bill would prevent teachers from talking about gender identity and sexual orientation with students.  

Many years ago, Speaker of the U.S House of Representatives Tip O’Neal stated that, “All politics are local.” We need to start embracing that notion once again before we lose control of the community we call home. We need local regulations to control the quality of life here in our island City, we need local news outlets to thrive and remain independent, and we need our city commission to have the power to continue on with the ongoing creation of a wonderful place we call Wilton Manors.

Thank you again South Florida Gay News for publishing the Wilton Manors Gazette. This wonderful and very important source of local news goes a long way in making like 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.


Opinion: Law and Disorder