Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Omari Hardy is apologizing for his tone following a Thursday night Commission meeting where Hardy ended up in a shouting match with the Mayor and City Manager.
“This is a banana republic is what you’re turning this place into with your so-called leadership,” Hardy yelled at Mayor Pam Triolo at one point during the heated exchange in remarks highlighted by the Palm Beach Post.
The back-and-forth stemmed from the city’s handling of the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
In recent weeks, Commissioner Hardy had pushed his colleagues to take additional action aimed at protecting the public from the virus’s spread. After his calls for an emergency meeting on the issue, the Commission gathered Thursday night.
It was at that meeting that City Manager Michael Bornstein admitted 50 people had their power turned off prior to a Wednesday announcement that those shutoffs were being halted.
As the two hour meeting extended past its halfway point, Mayor Triolo moved to stop debate on a resolution allowing Bornstein to have emergency powers even absent the city declaring a state of emergency.
That’s when Hardy began to let loose.
“This gentleman has turned off people’s lights in the middle of a global health pandemic,” Hardy said of Bornstein, before critiquing the city’s overall response.
“We could’ve banned large gatherings. We could’ve closed the beach. We could’ve put a moratorium on utility shutoffs,” Hardy continued. That prompted Mayor Triolo to abruptly call for a recess.
As Triolo moved to leave the meeting, things continued to heat up. Hardy began by arguing Triolo was turning the city government into a “banana republic.”
Triolo turned back to accuse Hardy of showing off, retorting, “You got a camera on that?” Hardy is departing the Commission to run for the Florida House in House District 88.
That prompted Hardy to continue shouting at Triolo, saying he “didn’t care” about the publicity.
“We should’ve been talking about this last week,” Hardy said.
“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 off in a global health pandemic. But you don’t care about that and you didn’t want to meet! But every other year you go around and beg people for their votes!”
Triolo responded, still standing after attempting to leave for the recess, “Point of order! Your are done. You’re done. You’re done. Disrespectful.”
That caused Hardy to continue pushing back.
“What’s disrespectful is what you’ve done to the working people in this city.”
While Hardy said he stood by his overall charges, he said he should have remained calm.
“Things got heated last night, but I don’t regret one word,” Hardy said on Twitter, before repeating the charge that the City Manager shut off the lights for dozens of residents.
“And my colleagues didn’t want to discuss it all, didn’t want to acknowledge what we had done, and I lost my cool. But sometimes you have to get into trouble to stand up for what’s right. That’s called #GoodTrouble,” Hardy said, referencing a motto of civil rights icon and U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.
Still, he reiterated, “Shouldn’t have lost my cool, though.”
After that recess, the resolution was approved by a 4-1 vote.