El Jefe

Fort Lauderdale Leaders, Except for Trantalis, Duck Out of Homeless Meeting (Updated)

(Update: Chaz Adams, Fort Lauderdale's public affairs manager, sent the following response to this story: To clarify, the meeting was called by Commissioner Trantalis as a District 2 meeting and not coordinated with any other Commissioner or the Mayor. In addition, the meeting was not advertised, so if another Commissioner or the Mayor had shown up, the meeting would not have been able to proceed forward under Sunshine Laws.)

Dozens of angry -- and hopeful -- people gathered at Fort Lauderdale City Hall on Monday night to talk about the homeless.

Not only did Commissioner Dean Trantalis acknowledge that the commission had acted too hastily in passing a law that severely restricts feeding the homeless but he called for suspended enforcement. "We're here now," said Trantalis, who called the meeting and was the only city elected leader who showed up.

None of the other city commissioners nor Mayor Jack Seiler attended.

See also: Fort Lauderdale's Controversial Homeless Feeding Restrictions Spark National Outrage

The city has been embroiled in conflict for a month, since it ticketed 90-year-old Arnold Abbott and others for feeding the homeless. National media from the New York Times to London's The Guardian have covered the morass.

The city has been sued twice over the prohibition of feedings and its treatment of the poor. Abbott, a World War II veteran, has been issued tickets but has refused to stop his public feedings.

Abbott said he has tried to work with the city, even moving feedings out of Stranahan Park. "I've already compromised," he said.

Jillian Pim, an activist with the group Food Not Bombs, has been hunger-striking for the past three weeks.

Strangely, City Manager Lee Feldman, who attended the meeting, said the county needs to do more to help the homeless. "This is not just a Fort Lauderdale issue," he said.

Passing the buck and not showing up -- this sadly seems to be the regular Fort Lauderdale response to what is rapidly becoming a horrible black eye to America's Venice.



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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse