BY BUDDY NEVINS
Renters who have been excluded from a key Fort Lauderdale group planning the future of the city may still get a chance to serve.
The requirement that only property owners be members of the Infrastructure Task Force should be changed to allow renters, said City Commissioner Dean Trantalis.
Trantalis will propose the change at Tuesday’s meeting.
The Infrastructure Task Force is not just any city advisory board.
The group will examine the condition of Fort Lauderdale’s roads, sidewalks, airports, seawalls, water and sewer pipes, treatment plants, well fields, parks and all other facilities. Members will then recommend how to pay for needed repairs or replacement.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler earlier this month railroaded through a prohibition against renters serving on the task force. The mayor claimed only people who pay property taxes for infrastructure should be members. He ignored the fact that renters pay through their rent.
Trantalis acted after a post on Browardbeat.com outlined how Seiler’s plan discriminates against 50 percent of the city’s residents. The piece is linked here.
“It was an absurd position for the mayor to take. If you feel people are transients, don’t pick them for the board,” Trantalis said.
(Seiler was a renter when he ran for first ran for mayor, according to Brittany Wallman’s Sun-Sentinel story of April 22, 2008. Her story was headlined, “Legislator’s Residency Questioned.”
The story states, “Meanwhile, Seiler rented a house in Fort Lauderdale that’s not far from the two homes he owns in Wilton Manors. One of his law partners owns the Fort Lauderdale house, he confirmed.
That gave him the Fort Lauderdale address he needed in order to change his voter registration and be called Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Fort Lauderdale, instead of D-Wilton Manors.”
He was a renter then. Today he’s a hypocrite.)
Trantalis questioned Seiler on his membership restriction during the debate on the task force. He voted in favor of it so that he could bring it up again, he said.
Parliamentary rules state that in most cases, only those who voted to approve a measure can ask that it be reconsidered.
Trantalis would need a majority of the five-member commission – Seiler and four commissioners — to agree with him. He seemed to be resigned that a reversal of the other three commissioners is problematic.
“(The commissioners) are Tweedledum and Tweedledee,” Trantalis said. “They go along with the mayor.”
The reference is from Louis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass. That’s soooo appropriate for Fort Lauderdale City Hall, where residents often feel like they fell down a rabbit hole when they try get anything accomplished.