Tuesday’s commission was filled with drama and storylines.

Mayor Scott Newton started the proceedings by recognizing the fallout from Saturday’s Stonewall Pride event where a man was killed and three others injured when a truck crashed into the parade.

“It was a tragic accident,” Newton said. “These families need our love and support.”

Newton said that includes the truck driver, 77-year-old Fred Johnson, Jr., a member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus.

“Fred Johnson is a wonderful person,” Newton said.

Michael Rajner, a longtime South Florida LGBT rights activist, criticized Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis’ response to the incident which generated headlines across the country.

“Dean needs to grow up,” Rajner said. “And stop attacking this man [Johnson].”

Trantalis initially felt it was an act of domestic terrorism, telling WPLG Local 10 News at the scene: “This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community. This is exactly what it is. Hardly an accident. It was deliberate. It was premeditated and it was targeted against a specific person.”

Trantalis has since walked back that statement, but is not apologizing for how he felt at the moment. Rajner, who had been preparing to view the parade from a balcony overlooking Wilton Drive, said Trantalis didn’t want to wait 10 minutes to speak with the police command and his remarks to the press could have caused a stampede of people clogging escape routes and creating more potential harm.

“Dean continues to deflect and attack a poor old man,” Rajner said.

Rajner was one of many people to speak during the public comments portion of the meeting, but a majority were focused on planning and zoning changes that later passed.

The meeting lasted five hours and 37 minutes.

Other tidbits from the meeting include:

  • Commissioner Gary Resnick, who attended via Zoom, grew tired of the circular discussions and logged off before midnight, saying he wasn’t comfortable making any more changes without public feedback.
  • The commission changed density in city land use from 25 to 60 units per gross acre.
  • Wilton Manors Police Chief Gary Blocker announced a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County to pair officers with students at Fort Lauderdale High School and Wilton Manors Elementary School.
  • City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson announced Fort Lauderdale has agreed to complete the rainbow painting of the “Love Wins” bridge it shares with Wilton Manors.

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