LARGO - When an elected body - say, for example, the Largo City Commission - votes no on a proposition, all that means is that the board actually took no action.
Really. This is the lawyer's argument offered by Alan Zimmet, Largo's city lawyer, when the Largo City Commission at its holiday delayed meeting last Wednesday voted not to approve another $53,000 in legal expenses.
Of course the bulk - if not all - of that fifty grand plus was headed for Zimmet's Palm Harbor law firm which milks about a half million dollars a year out of its Largo cash cow.
So if the commission decides, 5-1, (Commissioner Mary Black was absent) not to approve the transfer of $53,000 from the city's surplus to the administrative budget to supplement the cost of legal expenses that doesn't count.
The oleaginous Zimmet explained (with a straight face and in liquid terms) that the issue can be brought up again. In other words, this can be voted on until we get it right.
Commissioner Andy Guyette made the motion to approve the transfer of dollars from the city's surplus to begin their journey to the ultimate destination of Zimmet's pocket.
Discussion ensued and it quickly became clear that the commission was not going to go along with this. The vote was taken and only Commissioner Gay Gentry voted to approve. The motion was denied.
Oh no it wasn't.
Zimmet advised his putative employers that it was a motion to approve and because "it was voted down so no action has been taken yet. Because it was not passed it is still before you. The vote is not final."
That is to say, an issue remains before the commission until it receives a positive vote?
Largo citizens both present in the commission chamber and tuned in on the city's Channel 15 were bowled over by this new breakthrough in legislative jurisprudence.
The matter of launching $53,000 on its journey to Zimmet & Co. will be re-visited at the commission's next regular meeting, July 18 and if the commission wants to get rid of this question once and for all the members better vote yes.
Otherwise, this could go on for a long time.
Zimmet continued his didactic ruminations at the end of the meeting, during the comments, when he straightened out an assertion made by a participant in the citizens comments early in the meeting.
That citizen wondered where the "winnings" were from Largo's legal exertions in the courtrooms of the surrounding territory; for example, where were the returns of lawyer fees in the cases the city won?
Zimmet set that straight in explaining that winning parties in the American legal system (with some specific exceptions) do not get legal expenses reimbursed. (In the English system, losers pay in almost all cases.)
During the discussion on the idea of supplementing the legal budget with what amounts to correcting a 10 percent error in that budget, Gentry came up with a real howler.
Guyette had made the motion and then voted against it. With unerring back of the school back logic, Gentry allowed as to how beastly it was that someone should make a motion and then vote against it. Sort of a Benedict Arnold quality to that, don't you know?
Tune in July 18. It may get better.
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