Racism ? … Pioneers, in After Midnight Vote!

     It was one of those Commission meetings that hurt. Police escorting leading citizens from the chambers!

     I remember them all too well.

     This painful meeting erupted after midnight last night. It pitted an area that looked promising for a come back before the economy soured, called Flagler Village, (around Searstown and south to the downtown), and the District Commissioner for our neediest area, Commissioner Bobby Dubose.


                                         Alan Jean, Commissioner Dubose, Senator Smith   

     The battle was all about affordable housing in Flagler Village.

     First came the speakers who opposed the project, a 103 unit affordable housing project looking for a city government subsidy.

     The opposition was strong.

     One of the city’s leading pioneer developers, Alan Hooper was very upset.

     He said his developments, (heralded as pioneering developments in a once rough area), would soon be “sandwiched” by affordable housing. He said his customers say they will not buy next to affordable housing. He said that “we ( the area’s residents”) need to have a say on where to put them ( affordable housing)”.

                    Hooper in happier times           Hooper’s Avenue Lofts in Flager Village

         (Ironically, Hooper once proposed moving the city’s vagrant population out of the downtown into other neighborhoods north of Flagler Village).
      Other speakers said they bought into a dream that was turning into a nightmare. They spoke of the neighborhood turning back into a “slum”. Said homeless were “lurking behind trees”. 

     One area owner said if the low income projects came in, the area would go downhill and never come back.

     Commissioner Dubose was incensed. He said the speakers comments were “troubling, disturbing, insulting”. He was clearly emotional – spoke of an “undercurrent”. He said that the folks in the Northwest (who weren’t allowed to cross east of the railroad tracks after dusk in the past, were just finally  “celebrating crossing the railroad tracks”. 

     He admonished the opposition that ” people that qualify for affordable housing aren’t bad people”.

     This harangue incensed Hooper in the audience. Hooper stood and started to rebuff Dubose, saying “I have to address that”. 


     Mayor Jack Seiler tried to restore order by banging his gavel, and saying no, no, no Alan, please be respectful, but it was too late.

     Hooper was being escorted from the Chambers by Fort Lauderdale Police.

     The Commission finished their deliberation and passed the subsidy 4-1, with Commissioner Rogers opposing. 

     It’s not the last we will hear of it. The Commission agreed that there needed to be a “strategy”, so Flagler or other neighborhoods wouldn’t be overwhelmed with the city’s affordable housing…

            Stay tuned ! 




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