A local official in Florida has been praised after excoriating his city’s leaders for what he called a failure of leadership during a global pandemic – and for turning the city into a “banana republic” by misbehavioural procedural rules.
Omari Hardy, a city commissioner in Lake Worth Beach, vented his anger at an official meeting. The city commission has been locked in a bitter dispute over the handling of the coronavirus epidemic, Mr Hardy criticising other city leaders for failing to declare a state of emergency or shut down beaches, bars and restaurants.
The verbal altercation that has been spreading on social media arose after a discussion about shutting off residents’ utilities where they had failed to pay their bills. The commission’s leaders say shutoffs have now been suspended, but Mr Hardy pointed out that many people had been cut off and forced to pay to get their power back even after workplaces had sent them home due to the epidemic.
“We should have been talking about this last week,” he told other commissioners. “We cut off people’s utilities this week and made them pay what could have been their last check to us to turn their lights on in a global health pandemic!
“You’re calling me disrespectful because I’ve interrupted people,” he said, “but this gentleman has turned off people’s lives in the middle of a global health pandemic.
At that point, mayor Pam Triolo ordered a recess, which Mr Hardy said was not within her power. Furious at what he said was her manipulation of procedure, Mr Hardy told her: “This is a banana republic, is what you’re turning this place into with your so-called leadership.”
Later, after Ms Triolo called him “disrespectful”, Mr Hardy told her “what’s disrespectful is what you’ve done to the working people of this city.”
“I didn’t do anything,” she replied. To which Mr Hardy responded: “You failed to act. When you’re a leader, you failed to act. You said you didn’t do anything, you failed to act when you had an opportunity.”
This article was originally published on independent.co.uk