LARGO - Jurisdictions far and wide may want to know about the breakthrough in governmental procedure achieved by Largo - in short, it boils down to "keep bringing it up until we get the right vote."
At its July 5 meeting, the City Commission did not approve - by a 5-1 vote (pretty clear cut and definite) - the allocating of extra money to the city's lawyer, Alan Zimmet.
More moolah was needed because the budget was running low and Zimmet & Co. was nearing the bottom of the barrel in transferring funds from the pockets of Largo taxpayers to the coffers of Zimmet's law firm.
It made for a great show at the commission's meeting last week to see the go-round and squabbling over an issue that was given a no vote two weeks previously but had now mysteriously turned up again on the commission's agenda.
As one commentator at the meeting said it was the "second second reading" of the measure, and who knows, had it failed last week perhaps it would be brought up until the proper outcome was achieved. Logic would dictate thus.
The extra money needed to supplement the city's legal expenses (virtually all of which goes to Zimmet) was snatched from the jaws of failure by Zimmet himself on July 5 when he pronounced that the "no" vote simply meant that the issue was still before the commission and would be continued.
What's neat about this little fillip by Zimmett is that he, the rule maker on the issue, is the chief recipient and beneficiary of the ordinance.
"Isn't that called a conflict of interest?" one fellow in dusty overalls, a visitor from faraway Dixie County, asked as he saw these wondrous things unfold.
The subject was before the commission again next week. Except for a citizen speaker no member of the commission mentioned that the thing had already been voted down.
When John Atanasio, who attends virtually every meeting of the commission, was citing facts and figures that might provide enlightening information to his fellow citizens and raised questions, he was abruptly shut up in the middle of his statement by Gerard. It is obvious she does not want to hear from troublemakers.
When Commissioner Rodney Woods raised questions, as is his right as an elected official, he was treated rudely by Steve Stanton, the city manager.
Woods obviously was asking a rhetorical question ("If you don't need the extra $2,000 now, why ask for it in the first place?") Stanton put him in his place, demonstrating that commissioners are among the lower ranking denizens of Stanton's empire.
"No, you can't do that commissioner," Stanton corrected, and then launched into an answer which was the preface to a near filibuster on how the city's legal expenses worked, a stirring defense of his lawyer, Zimmet, and how the half a million dollars paid out each year is a bargain, not to be
According to Stanton, the ways in which Zimmet works tirelessly in his great services for Largo are complicated beyond words.
Still, many are wondering, when is a "no" vote not a "no" vote and has the idea of conflict of interest (with which the city is riddled) no application in Largo?
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