Happenings in Largo became curiouser and curiouser as January staggered to an end and the calendar lurched into February.
An apparently unbeatable candidate for election to the City Commission is gone in a development that has left everyone breathless.
The hubbub of secrecy that went on surrounding Charlie Harper, the sure-fire candidate who is now gone, is still under lock and key.
Whether it is nonsense, conspiratorial mischief, or of a serious weighty matter is not known. The public hasn't guite forgotten yet. Citizen John Atanasio asked the commission at its February 1 meeting for elucidation. Whether he gets any will be interesting -- and telling.
They are all so exhausted over at Festung Largo with the magic show -- now you see it, now you don't -- they are not having a meeting this week, preferring to lie low and take attendance.
What amounted to unspecific accusations were made against Harper. The way that goes, if he does not know what they are (because no one, under law, can talk about them), how in tarnation could he defend himself?
The Big Paper was all over this like gangbusters. When this crowd decides to bring someone down, no effort is spared.
A gentleman of our acquaintance was sought out by Harper for some casual, unpaid advice as to "what do I do about them (the BP)?"
The answer forthcoming seemed to be obvious. "Don't talk to them."
Which, of course, Harper ignored just as fast as his impulses could control his actions.
Harper, it appears, has claimed that he has an engineering degree. The BP, as is the wont of such institutions, checked this out and could not discover any such language emblazoned on skin that had been pried off some unfortunate sheep and awarded to Harper.
Just wasn't there. Didn't exist.
What lawyer, doctor, accountant, dentist, soothsayer or chiropractor do you know who does not have one of those impressive documents framed on his office wall? (I have even seen some that have been written all in Latin.)
But there you have it. BP says no documentation, Harper says he has the degree but can't find it -- maybe the dog ate it or a sandwich got wrapped in it.
One astute political observer greeted this unearthing of fact with the question the estimable Howard Baker made famous in the Watergate proceedings 31 years ago.
"What did the BP know and when did it know it?"
That is, did the BP have knowledge of Harper's credentials or the lack thereof in 2002 when he first ran and suppressed such information because the paper supported his candidacy then?
Or, despite its holy assurances to readers that the paper thoroughly researches candidates' backgrounds before imprinting its nihil obstat on them, it did not?
So much for the credibility and reputation of the BP for those who have not yet been educated to the same.
Events quickly slid into the toilet as the last week of January flickered out.
If there is any connective tissue to these happenings, this deponent cannot say.
According to the BP, one of its representatives (one of those incredibly young, still wet behind the ears individuals ga-ga over the possibility of fame and fortune) met with Harper at 10 a.m. Friday, January 28.
There reportedly was no mention of health problems. The Harper Express was rollin' down that railroad track with Engineer Harper's hand on the throttle. Whoo-whoo.
Three hours later, Harper phoned the BP to announce that he was withdrawing as a candidate from the March election.
Given this gallimaufrey of events one wonders if Harper had lunch with his physician January 28. The reason given for withdrawal was the emergence of a serious illness.
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