LARGO - In this city that long ago decided it does not follow the rule of law, the City Commission has now emphatically demonstrated that it has turned an old saying on its head and believes in being pound wise and penny foolish.
It will be interesting to see how the six bobbleheads (excluding, of course, Mary Black) on the commission will handle a hot potato that will soon be on the table.
That is the desire of the Moss Feaster funeral parlor to put a crematorium on Wilcox Road, near a residential area.
In other words, do you want a crematorium across the street from where you live?
Folks in that southwestern part of the city have already given voice to how they feel. They don't want it.
Ordinarily, this subject would be in the exclusive bailiwick of the city staff, but because city law allows the commission to take a hand in a decision like this where the public interest is deemed to be at stake it will come before the elected officials.
The word is that some of these officials, in the course of running for office in the March election, indicated they would oppose the crematorium which will consist of three furnaces.
A close look at the commission might indicate that the Moss Feaster project for the crematorium will fail. There are commissioners - Commissioners Black, Andy Guyette and Rodney Woods are prime examples - who are very sensitive to community concerns.
Mayor Pat Gerard has indicated in the public print that she is opposed to the crematorium. She has said that she does not think the location is compatible for that kind of use, being right across the street from homes.
One thing is for sure - Commissioner Harriet Crozier cannot vote on the issue and in that logic should not participate in any discussion either.
She is an employee of Moss Feaster and has an indisputable conflict of interest that will remain notwithstanding any ideas put forth by Alan Zimmet, the city's part time lawyer.
Some observers think Commissioner Gigi Arntzen should be in that category, too, because she is a former employee of Moss Feaster.
The funeral and cemetery business has already submitted to the city a site plan for review. After the review the matter will go to the Planning Board which will forward recommendations to the commission which will hold a public hearing and make a decision.
It may be July or August before the issue comes before the City Commission. In the meantime, there will be lots of talk and buzzing about the controversial subject.
On the penny foolish, pound wise subject, the commission didn't blink at spending $10,000 for prettying up one area of the city but choked at spending $178 - yes, 178 dollars - at another location.
But such shenanigans, including the loss of the suit on the Seabrook annexation, has come to be standard fare in Largo.
At Tuesday night's workshop meeting, commissioners spent an hour discussing a voluntary retirement health savings plan which indicated that these officials (and, in one case, a spouse) figured they had a stake in it.
The program is of no cost to the city, which would justify careful vetting of the plan if it were, but it does not and obviously some commissioners feel the play is part of their pay package and had an hour's worth of questions.
On some hypothetical situations that could arise in elections, Zimmet gave a tour de force in bafflegab. Of course, this was right down the alley of the henhouse with that gender finding the subject worthy of chewing over at length.
In a discussion of rules for citizen comments at commission meetings, the commission entertained the idea of citizens submitting statements for the record in writing, a requirement that is not made of city staff officials when rejecting applicants for certain plums within the city's province to give.
A glaring inconsistency, an outright contradiction, is found in the language ruling that a citizen cannot speak on items that are on the agenda; and then, in regard to the consent docket "public comment on any consent item must be made during citizen comment."
Of course, the thrust of the discussion on citizen comments was designed to limit and curb public participation as much as possible.
And for good reason, no doubt. There are members of the commission who do not want certain subjects brought up in reference to their own records.
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