Column: The Election, the Commission Meeting and Other Ponderings

Last week I took a short vacation to visit a friend in the mountains of Puerto Rico. While it was a much-need break from my routine here in Wilton Manors, have had to work double shifts since my return to make up the time, and I’m still trying to catch up on everything I missed.

With several topics swirling around in my head, I don’t want to focus on the elephant in the room—the upcoming Presidential election. I’m sure, like me, you have already had quite enough of all the nasty ads, mudslinging, unfounded accusations, and the Jerry-Springer-like “debates” and discussions.

Unfortunately, due to my work schedule, I had to miss the well-attended rally for Hillary Clinton at The Manor on Sunday afternoon. As usual, the State of Florida is a major battleground for both campaigns, and the Democratic Party is making a big push to secure victory in South Florida. Locally the big question is who will win our two commission seats here in Wilton Manors. The race has four candidates, Paul Rolli, Tom Green, Julie Carson and Celeste Ellich. Our race for mayor looks to be another easy win for incumbent Mayor Gary Resnick.

Seems I also missed several important topics at last week’s Commission meeting. One topic, the presentation by County officials to the City Commission on the CDBG Grant funding process, is a topic I’ve been interested in over the years. This grant from the federal government goes to Broward County, which then distributes funding to cities, with Wilton Manors receiving about $65,000 each year. Monies are to be used to assist low to moderate income residents of our community. In the past this funding was only available for the Highland Estates area, but this year includes areas west of Andrews Avenue. Due to limitations on the use of funds, most recent projects had to do with infrastructure and park improvements, especially at Island City Park Preserve.

Many in our community have long advocated that this funding be used to improve the lives of low-income residents who are in need of a helping hand, perhaps to fix a leaking roof or other home improvements. CDBG grant funds can make a big difference in the daily lives of those truly in need and where other government funding sources are not available. City staff has long argued that certain programs are not utilized by residents, that such programs are hard to manage and that funds would be better used for projects that help the largest number of our community vs. the few. And therein lies the dilemma--helping the many vs. helping the few.

Of course, the logical choice supports those in the city who look to use the funds to make park improvements which benefit many in our community. Unfortunately, the spiritual and moral side of humanity does not always follow logical thought. Is helping a few low-income residents of our city, when we have the ability to do so, perhaps a better choice?

Another important topic at the Commission meeting had to do with the ongoing discussion that the city offers broader levels of medical coverage for transgender employees. Having missed the discussion and votes taken by the city commission, I hold back from making any comments until I have the chance to find more information.

However, I catch myself on the verge of hypocrisy, and must carefully contemplate my response. Having just stated the moral and spiritual argument of not accepting what is logically best for the many vs. helping the few amongst us who are in need, perhaps I need to apply the same argument here. Unfortunately, life gives us many hard choices, and one of them happens to be the debate on who and what conditions gets covered under our increasing very expensive health coverage. I will leave that question for all to ponder.  Hopefully, we will begin to demand our elected officials make the tough choices, on a national, state and local level, for the healthcare we all deserve as a human right still not recognized here in the wealthy United States of America.

By next edition of the Gazette in two weeks, we will finally be past Election Day and the results of our local election known by all. Unfortunately not everyone will be a winner and not every voter will be happy with the results. Thanks to all the candidates who put forth such get effort and interest in wanting to serve our city. Your participation in the process benefits us all.

So, take a vacation, miss some meetings, play hooky, enjoy yourself… ‘cause it will only make life just better here…

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