Corona-madness, Florida edition: Local lawmakers spiral into childish shouting match over power

(Video screenshot)

A meeting of the Lake Worth Beach City Commission in Florida’s Palm Beach County went off the rails Thursday after an already exasperated commissioner grew even more irate over being denied the opportunity to offer his take.

As seen in the video below, commissioner Omari Hardy blew up on his peers after they tried to end a discussion on a particular topic/”question” prematurely.

Watch:

“I’m sorry, that’s not how this works,” Hardy immediately spoke up after Vice Mayor Andy Amoroso tried to “call” the question. “We each have an opportunity to speak five minutes.”

“I thought we did,” Amoroso replied.

“Yeah, the question’s been called,” Mayor Pam Triolo added.

“No, I’m sorry, that’s not how calling the question works,” a visibly agitated Hardy promptly replied. “You need a second, and you need to vote on it.”

“Can I have a second for calling the question?” Triolo then sarcastically asked.

“Are you telling me you’re going to keep me from talking right now!?” Hardy responded, his voice growing increasingly loud.

“You’ve talked all evening,” commissioner Scott Maxwell dismissively replied.

And that was when all hell broke loose and Hardy began excoriating the mayor and her allies, including City Manager Michael Bornstein. Of course, anyone who’s been paying attention to events in Lake Worth Beach likely already knew this outburst was coming.

As it stands, Triolo recently granted Bornstein emergency powers. But according to Commissioner Hardy, Bornstein has been misusing these powers.

“City observers say that Hardy and Bornstein have maintained an uneasy relationship for some time,” the Palm Beach Post notes. “It turned icier last week after Hardy’s written request for an emergency session for Friday, March 13 to discuss the city’s response to the pandemic was rejected by Bornstein, who said he appreciated Hardy’s ‘youthful exuberance’ but advised the 30-year-old commissioner to ‘calm down.'”

It doesn’t help that after Bornstein was granted emergency powers, the lights and water of dozens of nonpaying customers were shut off. This angered Hardy so much that he issued a complaint with the local media.

“Electric and water are crucial to sanitation,” he said to local station WPBF. “Sanitation is crucial to containing the pandemic. And containing the pandemic is our first priority.”

“We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s a novel crisis. And their sanitation is our sanitation because this virus knows no bounds.”

When the station reached out to Bornstein, he claimed the shutoffs had been automatic and vowed that the situation would be rectified immediately.

“Bornstein said city policy is to shut off service to anyone who is 72 days behind on their bills,” the station reported. “He said that’s an automatic process. But he also said that’s a process that makes no sense during a pandemic.”

“Bornstein said anyone who had their utilities shut off on Tuesday can have them restored free of charge. Moving forward, the city will not cut off any service as the world deals with the coronavirus.”

This report from WPBF was published Wednesday, a day before the meeting.

“I’ve interrupted people, but this gentleman has turned off people’s lights in the middle of a global health pandemic,” Hardy roared in anger at the meeting Thursday as he pointed to Bornstein.

“That’s what that gentleman did, and you think I’m disrespectful for interrupting? This gentleman has had the ability to do any number of things. We could have banned large gatherings, we could have closed the beach, we could have put a moratorium on utility shutoffs.”

As he spoke, the mayor kept saying, “Point of order.”

She eventually grew exasperated and chose to recess the meeting, spurring Hardy into replying, “Also not within your powers, and the attorney has held that’s true.”

But the conflict didn’t end there. If anything, it only grew spicier, as Hardy and Mayor Triolo began trading shots as if playing table tennis.

“You came up with new rules at the beginning of the meeting, and then you didn’t even want to follow the rules that you came up with. This is a banana republic is what you’re turning this place into with your so-called leadership!” Hardy said.

“Hardy for State House. Do you got a camera on that?” the mayor then dismissively replied.

The implication was that uber-liberal Hardy was having a “Spartacus” moment like notorious grandstanding Sen. Cory Booker so as boost his chances of winning a seat in the Florida State House come November.

One might reasonably conclude that Hardy does not have the temperament needed to be an elected official. He’s also a guy who believes that taxpayers should be funding every social “need” that comes along with the ultimate goal to expand the nanny state.

But, judging by the reaction on social media to what happened Thursday, Hardy has a whole army of liberal supporters backing him.

The meeting eventually concluded with the mayor saying, “You’re done. You’re done.”

 

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Vivek Saxena

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