Sad news this morning as I look at the newspaper headlines. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be ending their 146-year run in May 2017. American families, especially those with young wide-eyed children, will be losing a part of their childhood.

My brothers and I always got excited when the circus was coming to town. It meant an exciting day out in Manhattan to see the exotic animals paraded through the Queens Midtown Tunnel onto the streets of Manhattan leading to Madison Square Garden. The circus train set up camp on the other end of the tunnel at the Sunnyside train yards in Queens. Then a few days later mom would have tickets for us all to see the show. Plenty of excitement for young boys and girls.

Looking back now, perhaps this Greatest Show on Earth had a bit more going on than just good ole family entertainment. Perhaps it played on young boys and girls budding fantasies and awakening sexual interests.
I am sure some parents were also thinking along those lines. Conceivably that was part of the fun, the excitement, the lure. While my brothers were looking up at the stretched-out legs of the barely clothed young female trapeze performers, I was busy checking out the tiger tamer with his big muscles and tight-fitting body suit bulging in all the right places.

My mother must have had her favorites also, since she was equally excited each year with news announcing the arrival of the big top. In the days before the internet, who knows how many secret fantasies were played out during those performances. Seeing who my brother eventually married, he might have been dreaming about Bertha the Bearded Lady instead of one of the Letka Sisters from the traveling trapeze group.

Goodbye Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Thanks for the memories and the fantasies of a young boy.

Breaking away from those arousing childhood memories, my attention is brought back to more current times. This past week the word “affordable” seems to be everywhere. On the national scene, the future of the Affordable Care Act is on everyone’s mind. Here on a local level, the topic this past week at City Commission was Affordable Housing and the use of the funds collected from fees on developers over the past ten years or more.

Our new Republican leadership is sprinting full speed out the legislature’s starting gate. Their first attempt was to gut the Congressional Ethics Office, now it is on to the Affordable Care Act. All reports have them ready to gut this legislation in the coming weeks, leaving millions of people totally confused and unsure about the future. When asked about the specifics, the new establishment’s battle cry is simply, “Repeal, Repeal, Repeal,” and then we will replace it with something better. What are Americans supposed to do in the meantime? This is like closing down I-95 and dismantling the entire roadway before building a better roadway to replace it. Oh well, guess we will just have to wait and see. Hopefully the Republicans have a surprise up their sleeve.

Now on to affordable housing here in Wilton Manors. Two main camps seem to be circling their wagons. Commissioner Carson leads the way for rental subsidies, while Commissioner Green leads the way for home ownership assistance.

Although rental assistance for needy seniors and vets seem like a great idea, it does nothing to solve the problem. It actually creates a new problem--additional city staff to monitor a never-ending program. Unfortunately, the fees flowing into the Affordable Housing Fund are not limitless; and for a small built-out city such as ours, is actually a dwindling stream. Home Ownership Assistance is possibly the better choice and can transform the lives of those who receive it. A hard-working mother trying to get by and provide for her children will see her life drastically change with the ability to own her own home, build equity, and secure a piece of the American Dream. Given a small rental subsidy each month, that same family would be stuck, just getting by month after month. While many surrounding cities offer Home Buyers Assistance programs, very few offer any Rental Assistance Programs, and those that do usually offer assistance on a temporary, emergency basis. The city might do better to use the funds to offer an incentive for a developer to come in and build affordable green housing units in our city. Hopefully city management will offer some bold new ideas for our Commissioners to review and vote on in the near future.

This past Monday we celebrated the life of a great man, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Some only see his work for civil rights, but he was a union organizer, a preacher, an anti-Vietnam War activist, and an advocate for non-violent change.

Achieving a better understanding of this great American hero and his legacy will only make life just better here …