LARGO - Although there was an attempt to shoulder the group out of the way, the Largo Civic Association will hold its second Largo Election Candidates Forum at 10 a.m. Saturday, February 25, in Jenkins Conference Room at the Largo Public Library.
The Largo City Commission is in bed with the Mid-Pinellas (read Largo) Chamber of Commerce.
In fact, city taxpayers give the Chamber of Commerce almost $1,000 every year in membership fees although it is hard to discover any benefit that accrues to the taxpayers for such expense.
But a grand is chump change in a city with a $120 million budget that can afford to dump $10,000 a week into the Cultural Center and get nothing for it.
The Chamber of Commerce held its virtually exclusive forum for candidates Tuesday of this week at a luncheon that cost attendees $15 in advance ($20 at the door) and was not designed for the general public.
An orgy of candidacy will be held next Thursday at a public forum at the City Hall, again under the auspices of the Chamber.
Why the Chamber of Commerce is allowed to play such a heavy role in Largo elections is a mystery, the key word being "allowed," one longtime political sage says.
In fact, many wonder why the city is so heavily involved in the election. "The federal government didn't get involved in the presidential debates," one veteran said. "And the state Legislature is not in the business of approving who is going to set up candidate forums," he added.
But the Largo Civic Association, the disfavored child among most members of the commission, hangs in and pluckily has planned an opportunity for the public to see, hear, and question candidates without any price of admission.
When the Largo Civic Association asked to play a role in the election, it was pooh-poohed. One well-placed source who knows said that there was no openness to the decision. "It was a done deal before the LCA even brought the question up," he said.
Many wonder in addition to why the City Commission plays such a role why - if there is going to be an official imprimatur - why not give the nod to an unaffiliated group like the Largo Civic Association?
The constant striving some say they are doing to bring Largo to a level of municipal sophistication where the city would stop being the object of gibes from critics fails because of the bush town habits of taking care of one's friends, relatives and cronies and pushing personal and private agendas.
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