LARGO - The interplay at the Largo City Commission meeting last week was intriguing, particularly for those who are in the know and follow Largo developments.
For example, when Commissioner Andy Guyette mentioned the idea of having an "energy audit" in the city, City Manager Steve Stanton reacted as though he had been hit with one of those buzzers you used to be able to buy in novelty and gag shops.
The response from Stanton was Pavlovian. He is very uptight over the "A" word.
He had already had an earlier encounter at the October 17 meeting when Commissioner Gay Gentry observed she could see "where an auditor would be useful" in the context of the discussion of grass cutting contracts that would cost more than $300,000.
At the mention of the word "auditor" from Gentry Stanton's hackles were up. The word is guaranteed these days to get a rise out of the city manager.
The reason why is because a citizen, Curtis Holmes, who follows public affairs in Largo closely, suggested some weeks ago that the city needs an internal auditor, just like most big cities.
Such an auditor is not just another bean cutter, but extends its duties to making sure that all city policies as laid down by elected officials are carried out.
This is the last thing Stanton wants. And the problem is, several of the commissioners - enough votes perhaps to implement the idea - have expressed positive interest.
The city manager wants to maintain his untrammeled, no interference rule of the city. He theoretically reports to the commission, but it has been demonstrated that the commission exercises very little control over Stanton.
Building a fence along Central Park Drive is the latest known example. Stanton was categorically forbidden to build any such fence (that runs along the property of an area where a former commissioner who had great influence with Stanton lives), but did it anyway.
Gentry's suggestion that an auditor would be useful brought Stanton to his "en guarde" stance - "We don't need an internal auditor," he said with great force and emphasis.
It was clear that Stanton had his scrapping pants on, but that donnybrook was halted by Commissioner Mary Black's point of order that suggested that the issue at hand concerned a motion to continue the issue to a later date.
In the meantime, Alan Zimmet, the city's $2,000-plus a week lawyer, was giving lessons on law and procedure to commission members throughout the meeting. They seem to be all at sea on anything concerning such matters.
What gave rise that was the looming threat of a lawsuit from the Moss-Feaster funeral parlor which was not allowed to put a crematory right next to a residential neighborhood.
That controversy continued at last week's meeting as a line of citizens showed up imploring the commission not to agree to a compromise offered by the funeral home's lawyer in lieu of a trip to the Circuit Court.
Citizens asked the commission further to change land use rules and require body burning facilities to locate only in an industrial area.
So the crematory issue constituted book ends for the meeting. The citizens, having already gotten wind of the compromise offer, were four square against same at the beginning. And Zimmet outlined the compromise (smaller and farther away from the residential) at the end of the meeting.
The commission wouldn't go for the compromise, preferring to stand by its decision to block the funeral parlor's plans.
Another lawsuit looms over whether the city could act against a mobile home park whose counsel now contends that the area was not legally annexed into the city.
With lawsuits on the horizon, Commissioner Gigi Arntzen observed, "You're expensive, Mr. Zimmet."
"True dat," was heard from one source.
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