Lake Worth Beach, FL — Over the last 10 days, across the country, millions of Americans have watched as their careers in restaurants, bars, barber shops, spas, and many other businesses came crashing down. Many of these folks live paycheck to paycheck and have just received their last one. Of these folks, many of them have children. Imagine for an instant that you have just received your last paycheck, your rent is due and you don't have enough to cover your utility bill for your family. You pay only your rent to keep your roof over your head and the government responsible for your unemployment then cuts off your power.
A Lake Worth Beach, Florida city commissioner attempted to stop such a scenario from unfolding earlier this month by holding an emergency meeting to discontinue shutoffs of water and electric to city residents with derelict accounts during the crisis. However, that emergency meeting was denied and as a result, dozens of residents had their utilities shut off.
That commissioner was Omari Hardy who is now going viral in a video in which he calls out the mayor during a later meeting — after residents had their power cut off.
During the meeting, Hardy slammed Lake Worth Beach city manager Michael Bornstein who admitted to turning off electricity for 50 customers on Tuesday. He also accused the mayor, Pam Triolo of holding a "banana republic."
“Lake Worth is 10 minutes from Mar-a-Lago, but we’re the second-poorest city in Palm Beach County,” Hardy said, referring to President Trump’s resort. “Our working-class families may have seen their last paycheck for the foreseeable future. It doesn’t seem right to turn off their electricity in the middle of a pandemic.”
Hardy went on to note that the city slow played their reaction in spite mass unemployment amid the crisis.
“We could have banned large public gatherings, we could have closed the beach, we could have put a moratorium on utility cutoffs,” Hardy said. “We should have been talking about this last week. We cut off people’s utilities this week and made them pay what could have been their last paycheck to us to turn their lights on. But you don't care about that! You didn't want to meet.”
Not wanting to hear anymore of Hardy's words, the mayor called the meeting to a recess.
"Also not within your power," Hardy retorted. "You came up with new rules at the beginning of the meeting and then you didn't even want to follow the rules you came up with. This is a banana republic is what you're turning this place into with your so-called leadership."
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While being scolded by the commissioner, the mayor got up and walked away.
“You’re done. You’re done,” Triolo said. “Disrespectful.”
"You call me disrespectful because I've interrupted people," Hardy said to Triolo while gesturing toward Bornstein. "But this gentleman has turned off people's lights in the middle of a global health pandemic. That's what that gentleman did. And you think I'm disrespectful."
Video of the incident subsequently went viral with Hardy becoming a hero to many.
"Idk who Omari Hardy is, but make him president," one person wrote on Twitter.
"Omari Hardy For President," another said. "That lady couldn't handle all that truth in her face."
In an interview with the Washington Post, Hardy said he doesn't regret what he said, only noting that he wished he would not have yelled.
“I didn’t know how to feel about it,” Hardy said. “I felt I said what needed to be said, but I wish I didn’t have to yell it. I don’t regret the words, but I regret the circumstances that led to what was a very disagreeable situation.”
Luckily, for those affected by the crisis, Lake Worth Beach has since enacted a moratorium on utility shut offs and residents who had their electricity shut off have since had it turned back on.