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Feisty Chef Can Feed Homeless Without Fear Of Fines

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FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A chef at the center of Broward’s homeless feeding feud was in court Wednesday for his arraignment.

Arnold Abbott, 90, has been cited several times by Ft. Lauderdale police for feeding the homeless on the beach.

“It didn’t bother me before, it doesn’t bother me now.  The more important factor is making sure the homeless get fed on a regular basis,” said Abbott.

During the hearing, the judge delayed the arraignment because of Judge Thomas Lynch’s ruling on Tuesday which ordered the city to stop enforcing the open air feeding ban for 30 days.

Judge Lynch issued the ruling in response to Abbot’s suit against the city which claims they are in violation of a previous court order which allowed him to feed the homeless on Fort Lauderdale beach.

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It was a temporary win for Abbot and his group Love Thy Neighbor. Both sides are expected to sit down with a mediator.

“The process has begun.  I assured the city, the only way we’re going to resolve this is through the court system and it’s begun and I’m prepared to go all the way through,” said Abbott.

Abbott is not too optimistic that talks will go well with Mayor Jack Seiler. “You reap what you plant and he planted all the seeds. He started this and he’s going to have to live with it until it goes back to court,” said Abbott.

This whole ordinance restricting public feeding of the homeless has captured headlines around the world — and with Broward’s Homeless Initiative Partnership.

“There’s a saying, ‘never let a good crisis go to waste.’ We’ve gotten a lot of press and it’s been negative press around the world, so let’s use that,” said Keith Costello with the Homeless Initiative Partnership.

With all the attention, the Homeless Initiative is getting public input on what to do about homelessness. It agreed to ask county commissioners to look at a sales tax on food and beverage sales at restaurants to fund projects.

“Our goal, while some may consider it lofty, is to end homelessness in Broward by the year 2016 and we are committed to doing that,” said Barbara Sharief.

Abbott said he plans to have his usual feeding on the beach Wednesday evening. Abbott has been feeding the homeless on the same beach spot for years, and despite the new ordinance and citations, he plans to continue.

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