The past few weeks have offered much material for me to easily slide back into perfecting the art of sarcasm in my twice-monthly writings for the “Gazette.”
First and foremost was the disastrous water main break that caused mayhem for so many. Then there were budget meetings, misinformation on social media, code enforcement issues, Wilton Drive complaints, and so much more tempting opportunities.
On top of all these opportunities was also the awareness that my credentials in the Royal Order of Ancient & Accepted Curmudgeons, the ROAAC to many, have been called into question over my recent declaration of keeping a more positive attitude and writing style.
Temptation and peer pressure swirling around me, jostling me to pick up the quill and begin scribbling words of attack upon those in need a good public lashing, I struggle to set myself back down the path of positive thinking.
Reviewing some of the comments made on social media, during Public Comments at City Commission meetings and overheard conversations around town, one could easily think that civilization has begun a downward spiral into the depths of small- minded selfishness. I guess it all seems so much more real when we have a practitioner of these horrid traits serving as President, blasting out negativity on a daily basis. Luckily many in our community choose a more proactive approach to life.
I was rather surprised at the volume and degree of nastiness directed at our city officials over the water emergency last week. Perhaps it is the frustration over things we cannot control or the need to receive tidbits of information constantly every few minutes in our digital world. Having received the initial notice detailing the problem and estimating that it would exist for the next 24 to 36 hours, how could getting that same information texted to your phone every five minutes make you more informed? I find such overly frequent notifications and constant interruptions to be just extremely annoying.
Directing frustration for the many years of neglected infrastructure throughout Fort Lauderdale should be directed towards the City Hall located on Andrews Avenue, not the one located on Wilton Drive. Our city has done a great job in investment, planning and paying for the needed infrastructure projects that ensure future safety, demands and performance. We have also paid higher and higher rates to the City of Fort Lauderdale for our water and sewer needs. Unfortunately, for many years the City of Fort Lauderdale used much of that revenue to help fund their General Fund Budget instead of making the necessary and much needed improvements to their infrastructure.
Thankfully, under new leadership of Mayor Dean Trantalis and others, the City of Fort Lauderdale is dancing to the beat of a new drummer, recognizing the many years of past neglect. This change in direction will not cause the necessary improvements to happen overnight.
Unfortunately, those investments will take much time to bring infrastructure up to date along with the ability to meet growing demands. Surrounding cities and their many residents will have to keep their fingers crossed, hopeful to dodge future scenarios while improvements, updating and replacing aged infrastructure begin to take place.
Even under the best of circumstances, tragedy, accidents or Mother Nature can cause disruption in our daily lives and safety. That is the time we need to come together, help our communities, and do whatever we can to get through. Unfortunately, some in our community looked to point fingers, demand personal attention and post very negative diatribes all over social media.
Setting that aside for now, before allowing negative thoughts to consume my mind, I will move on to other news.
Here in our Island City, our Mayor and City Commission made it clear this past week that there will be no raising of the millage rate for the upcoming fiscal year. The proposed budget looked to have a slight increase, but due to the vote by our City Commission, the maximum rate is now set at the current level. After the next budget workshop, we will hopefully see the millage rate decreased further. Included in the budget are funds for the much anticipated streetscaping of Wilton Drive and for Jaycee Park across from City Hall. Moving ahead with this next phase for the Drive, along with new signage throughout the Arts & Entertainment District and at entranceways into our Island City, there will be plenty for us to be proud of.
City projects, budgeting and future planning take considerable involvement by residents, elected officials and city staff. The proactive involvement by many in our community counteracts the divisiveness of the few. That divisiveness and acrimony can wear you down at times, but that is when one should take a step back to smile and be thankful. Those few moments of positive affirmation can be contagious and will be what makes life continually just better here.