LARGO - A city resident Monday made a formal request at Largo City Hall for key records, one set of which is pertinent to the history of how the coffee shop in the new library came to be.
Curtis Holmes, well known as a watchdog of city affairs, asked for several things in his request under the authority of Florida Statute 119, which applies to public records.
Holmes requested a copy of the employment contract between the city and City Manager Steve Stanton; a copy of the contract between the city and Book Mark Café, the coffee shop at the new library, and a copy of the contract between the city and the golf course snack bar.
In connection with the coffee shop, Holmes requested the names and dates of all those who applied to operate the coffee shop; the dates that such applicants were notified they were not accepted and the reasons given by the city for rejecting them; the date the chosen applicant was selected and whose names were on the application.
A report in the Clearwater Gazette April 6 outlined the genesis, based on the description of a city official, of the library's coffee shop.
Holmes also asked the direct question in his request for records as to whether the city staff "was made aware that the boyfriend of previous commissioner Pat Burke was a 50 percent owner and was the commission told this prior to awarding of the contract?"
As a matter of fact and record, the commission was not told about this relationship.
Howard Ritchie, one of the original owners, and his partner have sold the business. The change in ownership was on the agenda for the April 4 meeting but then was mooted by Henry Schubert, assistant city manager, who said at the commission meeting that no approval was necessary in the change of operation of the coffee shop because the "business had been sold."
Why Ritchie and his friend, S. Michael Crivello, who are the principals in Bookmark Café, LLC, have opted to get out of the business after only eight months of operation is unknown. Crivello is from Wisconsin. Holmes's requests also asked for a compilation of the city manager's vacation days between October 1, 2004 and April 1, 2006. Also requested was a copy of the manager's cell phone log from October 1, 2005 to March 1, 2006.
Holmes said that a previous request of records pertinent to the city attorney was fulfilled by the city and "furnished copious amounts of billing records" but that they were identified only with account numbers. Holmes said he wanted specific names in regard to the accounts.
In his filing with the city Monday, Holmes asserted that before the October 18, 2005 City Commission meeting there was a meeting between then Commissioner Pat Gerard and the city manager to discuss the use of the old library building, and Holmes asked for notes of the meeting.
Of course, at the commission meeting, Gerard got herself into a conflict of interest, with the blessing of the city lawyer, Alan Zimmet, in proposing that her employer be allowed to use the now vacant old building.
Holmes filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission on the conflict of interest and probable cause was found but mysteriously the fact finder recommended that no further action be taken, making the commission itself look ludicrous.
Further, Holmes in his requests Monday asserts that as a result of the Gerard-Stanton meeting, Schubert was assigned to complete the detail work in trying to arrange for Gerard's employer, Family Resources, Inc., to have the use of the old library building. Holmes wants notes on the directive given Schubert and also wants the notes on the meeting between Schubert and Family Resources.
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