Mayor Jack Seiler got his first taste of national attention last year, but it wasn't the way he wanted it.
After news stories of 90-year-old do-gooder Arnold Abbott getting arrested for violating the city's anti-homeless laws went viral, the country's attention turned toward Fort Lauderdale to see who was responsible for such horrendous legislation. Who could enact a law against feeding the homeless? And who could arrest a 90-year-old man for feeding poor people, even if there is some pesky law?
Deserved or not, Seiler became that man. For a few days, his face was blasted all over national media as the symbol of heartlessness and lack of compassion for the poor. But however controversial the feeding ordinances are, there was a good deal of misinformation, and Seiler took the brunt of it. Abbott wasn't arrested -- he was carted away from the feeding station and given a ticket (however, a few younger charity-minded people have been arrested for violating the ordinance). And the new laws don't completely ban feeding the homeless, but they do put tight restrictions on feeding in public parks.