LARGO -- Largo has a dilemma. Simply stated, the ingredients are two good and decent people up against the stark simplicity of the law.
Commissioners Harriet Crozier and Pat Gerard made financial contributions to candidates in the recent municipal election.
The city's charter prohibits this.
The charter also says that any elected official who violates any "prohibition in the charter" must be removed from office.
An investigation and legal proceedings in the case are not even necessary in light of the simple words of the charter. Violate a prohibition and removal must take place. Simple.
But Crozier and Gerard are conscientious elected officials who try to do their best as they understand issues. Obviously they did not take the time to read the charter. Their violation of one of its prohibitions was a mistake on both their parts.
Pat Burke also made the same mistake, but she did not seek re-election.
Now, with all the facts on the table, Crozier and Gerard have no defense. Thus the dilemma. Good people are hurt because the charter must be satisfied and if it is not, the whole charter is meaningless.
The gruesome wreck of Largo's municipal election this year, which has made the city the laughing stock of the state, has produced one obvious factor pointed out by a member of the City Commission, who has asked not to be identified.
That person said that the irregularities and illegalities makes obvious that "Elected officials should read the City Charter and any ordinances relating to their jobs very carefully."
Apparently the only person in the picture leading up to the election who had any familiarity with city election laws was Mary Black, who defeated Gigi Arntzen for seat 1 on the commission, replacing the departed Burke.
It was Black who pointed out early in January that the petition cards that candidates fill out were not, except for hers, in conformity with the law.
That contention was airily dismissed by Alan Zimmet, the part time city attorney who is paid about $2,000 a week, with a mumbo-jumbo acrobatic legal high wire argument.
Then the illegal contributions came to light. Again, Zimmet attempted to brush this off with watered down language. One of the chief reasons for this, one observer said, is because it was crucial that City Manager Steve Stanton not lose Crozier and Gerard from the commission.
The pair are his supporters and the loss of them, coupled with the election of Black, considerably reduces his power to exercise a free hand. Many feel that Stanton, who is a competent manager, has too much power. The new commission lineup will have the effect of reining him in.
In the meantime, that same commission member who cautions a careful reading of the charter opines that the dilemma in the Crozier and Gerard case could be resolved by them resigning. It would clear the air, uphold the law and fully demonstrate their decency, the official said.
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