LARGO – Obviously confused and totally at sea on how to construct a basic document of law for the city – a charter – the review committee persisted September 14 in legislative language instead of concisely improving the existing charter.
In fact, the bloviator in chief, J.B. Butler, confused the city manager’s contract with the business at hand, the charter, further dizzying his colleagues and sending the chairman, Arnold Johnson, into a paroxysm of stories from his history in the ministry.
At one point, Johnson apparently confused the mundane task of hiring a city manager with the function of holy orders, referring to the hiring of a city manager as being “called,” a term relating to the clergy.
For that matter, with all the tinges of “fellowship,” the meetings have the ambience of a Methodist Church board meeting.
What the committee came up with at the September 14 meeting which concerned itself with the status of the city manager, was to require four votes to hire a city manager, likewise four votes to fire him or her and four votes to set the salary.
Shirley Craig, who shows some reasonably good sense, held out for super-majority (five) votes on the hiring and firing issues.
Alan Zimmet, the city’s lawyer, manfully tried to keep the gang on course with essential business, demonstrating, perhaps, that he is really earning the $155 an hour he is getting at these meetings in addition to the more than $2,000 a week he gets for his part time work.
Dealing with this crowd obviously takes its toll, akin to running a Father Flanagan’s Boys Town where all hands are incorrigible.
Never in the history of the memory of many observers has such a mish-mash of posturings, half-baked ideas, purely nonsensical ideas been given so much attention and time.
For example, a motion would be made and then a gaggle of the members would go for a steaming sail around the lagoon, each expostulating on his idea.
When this would happen, in the passage of the time necessary for all these excursions to nowhere, including new motions being offered, Johnson would have forgotten that there already was a pending motion, and he would do his absent minded professor routine. It’s like a “Little Rascals” movie starring old guys.
On a vote requiring that the manager’s contract not be inconsistent with the provisions of the charter, eight favored the idea, but Johnson announced that “the motion fails.”
Oops. The vote was 8-6, Zimmet alertly pointed out, and Johnson corrected himself accordingly.
One observer opined that the City Commission, which picked this group, must have been perpetrating a cruel joke on the community.
Another example of the foolishness was Butler raising the question of why Arnold voted for the four vote majority on firing the manager “after you had spoken for five votes.” Of course, anyone with a grain of sense knows that seconding or favoring a motion is not a commitment to vote that way.
But then, with an 8-6 vote favoring the four-vote majority on hiring and firing, Johnson’s vote could be interpreted as the decisive one.
Maybe the big mistake was televising this stuff, because it has clearly brought out the performing “15 minutes of fame” aspect of many of the committee members.
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