In a rare speedy meeting, Wilton Manors Commissioners sent a clear message to Tallahassee: stay in your lane.
In unanimous votes, commissioners supported abortion rights and opposed the state’s new anti-protest law.
Members of the Floridians For Reproductive Freedom coalition called into Tuesday night’s meeting to urge commissioners to pass a resolution — brought forward by Commissioner Chris Caputo — safeguarding accessibility, affordability and safety of reproductive healthcare. Following an extreme law passed in Texas that comes close to banning all abortions in the state, pro-choice activists are bracing for similar efforts in Florida.
“We’ve never seen such an aggressive early signal from Tallahassee,” said Joe Saunders, Equality Florida senior political director.
After hearing from representatives from the Southern Poverty Law Center and Public Rights Project, commissioners voted to oppose HB1, Governor Ron DeSantis’ controversial “anti-riot” law.
Other notes from the meeting:
The meeting lasted one hour and 48 minutes. Commissioner Gary Resnick was absent.
Resident Paul Kuta implored the commission to set aside more open spaces during the planning and zoning process. Kuta quoted Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis saying governments are failed states when they fail to include open spaces.
Former Mayor John Fiore suggested relocating the children’s playground at Hagen Park to Site 92, a waterfront park the city is considering taking ownership from the county.
Police Chief Gary Blocker presented Kerlyne Pierre, records manager, with the department’s employee of the quarter award.
Six people were appointed to the Library Advisory Board: Daisy Allica, Barbara Gail Cuthbertson and John Fiore were appointed to full terms, Marcie Grady was appointed to an unexpired term and Ruby Tucker and David Pirola were appointed to alternate positions. Fiore said Wilton Manors is one of only five cities in Broward County with its own library.
Kimberley Allonce, the city’s economic development manager, gave a goals presentation. Allonce said a $35,000 grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity would be used to study the Andrews Avenue corridor, reviewing vendor proposals, doing a branding and marketing analysis and meeting with stakeholders. Allonce also unveiled a new website, investwiltonmanors.com.
Mayor Scott Newton read a proclamation recognizing Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Monica Elliott, president of the League of Women’s Voters of Broward County, thanked Newton for the proclamation and announced the League was hosting a forum on suicide prevention Sept. 28.
Vacation rentals were back on the agenda with Commissioner Mike Bracchi objecting to a draft proposal from the city attorney’s office as too extreme, but acknowledging the problem is, “figuring out how to stop the nuisance houses.” Vice Mayor Paul Rolli said code enforcement needs better tools to mitigate nuisance houses.
Commissioners discussed additional exemptions for senior homesteaders. Finance Director Pennie Zuercher was directed to contact the Property Appraiser’s office to find out if wealth measurements are used in determining eligibility for the exemptions.
An event permit was approved by the Pride Center at Equality Park to operate Wicked Manors 2021. Officials from the organization, operating as the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Greater Fort Lauderdale, said the Halloween style event is expected to generate $50,000 — pre-labor — in revenue. Costs to the city include $12,000 in road closures and another $3,000 in administrative staff assistance and waiving of building permit fees.