In the early morning hours one day last week, I was roused from a sound sleep by someone pounding on my front door. At first, I thought it was part of a dream. Why would someone be pounding my front door at 5 a.m.? Then it happened again, loud, harsh, bam, bam, bam. The noise was aggressive, made with some type of instrument, meant to be loud, meant to be ominous, and meant to demand immediate attention.

In my early-morning haze, still attempting to rationalize what was happening, my mind went off on a few quick tangents. Were we under siege by President Trump’s DHS Stormtroopers, did our police department become the latest arm of the far-right insurgency, was there confusion with some other residence housing illegal aliens or political dissidents that needed rounding up, families separated and deported?

Approaching the door cautiously and ready to dial 911 on my cell phone, I looked to see the familiar face of a Wilton Manors Police officer standing at my door, backed up by the canine officer and their dog. Deciding to unlock the door and engage our two officers as to what was happening, I was quickly informed that a neighbor had been burglarized and that they wanted to search our yard for one of the suspects.

Needing a key to unlock the gates was the reason for this early morning rousing, and I immediately stepped outside to unlock the gate. Once again, my mind went off to a different place. I chuckled at the thought of being thankful that our city did not purchase body cams for our police officers. No proof of what one looks like at 5 a.m. What a relief! No back-office laughter from the ranks running the video clip of me in boxer shorts with my belly sticking out from under an old t-shirt. Not ready for close-ups at that hour, Mr. DeMille.

As the sounds of the approaching police helicopter snapped my attention back to the matters at hand, I retreated back into the house as instructed. By now, the rest of the house was awake, including our two vicious and ready to attack guard dogs, who just minutes ago did not make a sound or move from under the covers when I was answering the pounding on the door. Hmmm, thanks you two. No need to bark and look to see what was going on now, but off they went making lots of noise. Since getting back to sleep was no longer an option, the coffee started to brew.

Wondering and concerned about an early morning break-in of one of our neighbors, we did what all concerned residents do at the sound of a police helicopter overhead: We turned to social media. To our surprise, the answer was actually there. Our neighbor had already posted that her car that was burglarized, that one suspect was caught by our police department, and the other was on the run.

Later that day, thinking about my initial reactions, one has many reasons to be fearful of the sound of authorities pounding on your door in the early morning hours. This is the world Trump has created as he dispatches troops throughout our cities.

Fear is a tool successfully being used to manipulate and divert our attention away from the unlawful practices of those in power today. Not the America I want to see, but unfortunately the one many others want as they chant, “Let’s make America great again.” Scary times ahead as we get closer to Election Day. Many frightening scenarios should have everyone on edge.

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, our Island City, like many local governments, look to our nation’s capital for relief. Unfortunately, many in Washington see no need to help local municipalities deal with the downturn of the economy brought on by the pandemic.

So, our city keeps their fingers crossed, hopeful for the best-case scenario in regards to this upcoming fiscal year’s budget, while planning for difficult times ahead.

Recent budget hearings and city workshops offer a sobering reality of what lies ahead for our Island City. Tough choices will have to be made by our elected officials and city management. At last night’s Budget Workshop, our City Commission heard from Michael Bracchi, Chair of the city’s Budget Review Advisory Committee, who along with fellow committee members offered their budget recommendations.

Comments from Commissioner Julie Carson raised some eyebrows when she talked about lowering the vacation rental fee. Just a reminder to those running in the upcoming city election, resident homeowners and full-time renters vote in our municipal elections, vacation rental business owners usually do not.

Having strong neighborhoods protected by a wonderful police department, with robust code enforcement, and requesting those business owners who operate vacation rentals in our single-family neighborhoods be properly licensed and to pay appropriate fees are part of 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.