Opinion: Tamarac Resident Questions Commissions $700 Monthly Car Allowance

By Rob Alfonso

We have been in this fight for almost two years trying to get these politicians to vote to end the $700 monthly car allowance.

Allow me to recap a few important recent moments in this saga.

I secured documented commitments to vote to end the $700 car allowance from Mayor Michelle Gomez and Commissioner Elvin Villalobos in late 2022. In addition to this, Commissioner Morey Wright committed to voting to end the car allowance in a late 2022 Sun Sentinel interview.

Meanwhile, we heard soft support for ending the monthly $700 car allowance from Marlon Bolton, although he tied his support to poison pills (other budgetary changes that would be bad), which he knew the other commissioners would not support – so take his support for ending the monthly $700 car allowance as more “entertainment” value than real.

Then finally, the commission voted on the car allowance earlier this year after putting it off for months. Apparently, it takes many months to have a democratic vote on certain city items.

Wright went back on his commitment to ending the car allowance and voted no, which killed the change.

Then almost all in unison, the commissioners said, “Awww shucks, maybe another time would have been nice”.. Maybe next time.

Soon after this vote, Elvin Villalobos announced that he would voluntarily relinquish his $700 monthly car allowance payments.

Today Elvin submits a standard mileage reimbursement report each month. Then he gets reimbursed the official IRS mileage rate for his travels for the city, which is exactly how this should work, in my opinioninstead of just handing a lump $700 per month payment to each commissioner, incredibly without even requiring any of the payees to show any proof of a single mile driven for work.

So the question now is, if Elvin can give up his car allowance voluntarily, why don’t the other commissioners relinquish their $700 monthly car allowance payment and move to the same per-mile reimbursement system that Elvin is doing?

Gomez? You said you supported ending the car allowance, so do it.

Bolton? You said you support ending the car allowance; here is your chance.

I’ll answer my own question. Gomez and the rest of the commission never intended to end the monthly $700 car allowance. Everything they ever said about the $700 monthly car allowance was just words to placate people. Michele and her colleagues put on a grand circus act for us for many months during the 2022 election. Now that the election is over, we can clearly see none of them meant any of the things they said, or it would be done today.

We have to stop falling for the political games and distractions, and instead, we have to start holding all of our city leaders accountable. Too many of you give Michelle too much leeway. Yes, she is a super nice person, I agree, and I am sure she has done some nice things that benefit you; however, she is clearly working against your interests in this car allowance matter, and it is time we all admit this.

Many of you are shocked at the “ongoings” concerning Bolton, his actions taken in broad daylight; Shaker Village is the latest storm we are all witnessing. You do not realize that it takes a career politician like Gomez to allow someone like Bolton to exist. The car allowance game Gomez played is an example of how other people (Bolton) see that they can get away with things like this and, in Marlon’s case, take it to another level.

I know some of you will disagree, and that is ok. Just know I am only here to try and help fix our ongoing problems. I have no stake in this other than I love our city and want the best for it, including you.

In conclusion, we must outlast these politicians on the car allowance issue. We must not allow this to be settled in their favor, ever. They want this to go away, don’t let it. It’s totally outrageous, and we don’t have to accept this. This is not a fight for a month; it is a fight for years, and we must stay committed.

So I ask you to contact your commissioner and ask them why they have not voluntarily relinquished their $700 monthly car allowance like Elvin has.

Elvin

Then keep asking this question often. At commission meetings, on Facebook, in emails, on phone calls, or when you see one of them out and about.

Also, please make sure to thank Commissioner Villalobos for honoring his commitment to his constituents on the car allowance. These are the actions and intentions of an honest politician, and we need to make sure he knows we see it.

Please do not let this die. I will be with you every step of the way until we win this one day, I promise.

Carpe Diem!

Rob Alfonso, Tamarac Resident

UPDATE:

I would like to correct the record. Commissioner Wright contacted me today, August 19, 2023, to indicate that he supports eliminating the $700 car allowance and also did so in a commission workshop vote earlier this year, where he claims he voted to eliminate it. He indicated that I was incorrect in my opinion piece claiming that he voted “no” to eliminate the $700 monthly car allowance and that in the workshop, he voted yes. He claims there was never a full public commission vote on eliminating the $700 car allowance because the commissioners sent the matter back to the workshop, which is a tactic used by politicians to quietly kill a change they do not like and then never have to actually vote “no” publicly on the matter. As of this update, the $700 monthly car allowance continues to be paid to 4 of the five commissioners./em>
 
It is also important to note that Commissioner Wright can voluntarily opt out of the monthly $700 car allowance at any time by simply filing a document with the city where no voting is required, just as Commissioner Villalobos has done this past April. Given Commissioner Wright’s re-commitment to eliminating the car allowance and given that the city commission continues to avoid voting on this matter in furtherance of continuing to pay the $700 monthly car allowance to the four remaining commissioners, Commissioner Wright should honor his campaign commitment that he made to his constituents immediately by voluntarily opting out of the $700 monthly car allowance.

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