LARGO -- The Largo City Commission itself has muddied the waters on the issue of the violation of the city charter by two sitting commission members, against whom no action has been taken despite their clear violation of the charter.
For one thing, several of the commissioners do not understand that the criminal probe is totally distinguished from the action that the commission itself may take as authorized under the chater.
Much of the muddying came from Commissioner Gay Gentry at the May 3 meeting with a jeremiad of platitudes and hoo-haw bloviating about Magna Carta, the English common law and "little red wagons" that went nowhere, defined nothing, and did nothing more than further delay action on what much of the public has been clamoring for.
Mayor Bob Jackson wants clear legal advice before he is comfortable in proceeding, he says.
Where that comes from has been unclear up to now. But at the May 3 meeting, there was an indication that the advice can come from Alan Zimmet, the part time city attorney who gets paid about $2,000 a week.
But Zimmet has already been involved in the illegal contribution as well as has City Manager Steve Stanton who told candidates who received illegal contributions to give the money back in an obvious attempt to quick fix the situation.
The ruckus over these issues came at the end of the May 3 meeting when Commissioner Mary Black insisted in putting on the agenda the issue of the violations by the two commissioners, one of whom, despite being under the gun, fully participated in the discussion, further muddying the waters.
The discussion became contentious and at times bitter.
Much of the underlying contention rests on the all-powerful role that Stanton plays. It is crucial for Stanton that he keep the two commissioners who allegedly violated the charter on the commission.
They are Pat Gerard and Harriet Crozier.
The coming of the Mary Black to the commission, elected in March, is responsible for much of the disputed discussions. Black obviously reads the pertinent city law -- charter and ordinances -- that many others on the commission are totally unfamiliar with.
No matter what the State Attorney investigation comes up with is not pertinent to action the commission may take.
The State Attorney is on its second probe. The first was dismissed when Bob Lewis of the State Attorney's office found no grounds to proceed based on the testimony of Gerard and Crozier who said they knew nothing about the restriction of giving political contributions.
But then, the record of the June 22, 2004 commission meeting was unearthed showing that Gerard, for one, was an active participant in a discussion about political contributions. The discussion made it clear that they were illegal if given by commission members, indicating that Gerard is memory challenged or truth challenged.
A thin veneer of politeness covered the testiness and seething anger among commission members that has been building for months.
Most remarked was the colloquys between Stanton and Jackson and those between Black and Gerard and Black and Gentry.
In the end, obfuscation and confusion was the order of the day as the commission refused to acknowledge the plain language of the charter that says that any member who violates any prohibition of the charter shall be removed.
Two sitting members obviously violated a prohibition.
No action has been taken yet. But there has been plenty of mumbo jumbo, smoke and mirrors talk.
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