LARGO - What goes on in Largo's city hall gets curiouser and curiouser.
Last week's work session provides a startling example, and raises so many questions that the mind reels contemplating them.
In short, the city administration proposed to make a contract with a corporation that does not exist, no contract was available for commission members to examine, no prior information was given to the commission, scant background information was available on the applicant.
That's just skimming the surface.
The exercise called up the palsy-walsy deal that was made to bring into existence the coffee shop in the new library. That dripped of cronyism and maybe this deal will, too, when everything is known.
For this current debacle, City Manager Steve Stanton "took responsibility," whatever that means.
We are in an era where characters "take responsibility" for foul-ups, incompetent deeds, and just about everything. But no penalty ever attaches.
Historically, when one "took responsibility," one submitted a resignation.
Without that procedure, "taking responsibility" has absolutely no meaning.
It seems that an entity calling itself Lisa A. Enterprises, Inc., sought to secure a contract to run the food concession at the city's golf course. It would also have a liquor license.
It was at least halfway through the 30-minutes and more devoted to the subject when John Atanasio, a citizen, pointed out that there was no such corporation in Florida or anywhere else, apparently, by that name.
Up to that point the questioning by commissioners was routine and somewhat probing, turning up information from Joan Byrne, boss of the recreation department, doing her jumping jack routine as she took questions.
She was assisted in fielding questions by Henry Schubert, an assistant city manager, who smoothly and deftly volleyed back answers with all the assurance of a used car salesman.
But push really came to shove when another citizen, Curtis Holmes, followed Atanasio to the microphone.
"I find it intriguing that you are thinking of going into a contract with an entity that does not exist," Holmes said. In all fairness, it was clear that the mayor and commission members did not know this.
But then Holmes hit his main theme - "The question is did the staff do its homework? I'm not questioning the credentials of the applicant - I have no idea about him and neither do you. You have no idea what you're getting into - being asked to approve a five-year contract with someone unproven, unknown to anyone in this body."
And on it went.
Mayor Pat Gerard - "Why are we doing this tonight?"
Observers may remember that the coffee shop in the library deal was a rush job, too.
"We can't sign a contract with an entity not a corporation yet," Gerard said.
Then Commissioner Mary Black, in view of the fact that this was going to be the award of a "request for qualifications," asked, "What makes a qualified vendor?" (Obviously this one wasn't, not even being a legal corporation.)
Commissioner Andy Guyette mercifully put a gun to the head of the idea and euthanized it (at least for now). "We schedule this special meeting with limited information and I don't understand why?"
"We should have been kept informed along the way," Gerard said (shades of the coffee shop deal, again).
"Oh, we have lots of background," Schubert allowed.
To which Commissioner Gigi Arntzen, ever alert, responded - "We should have it - like today!"
Stanton said "We'll bring it back (next) Tuesday," forgetting obviously that the commission does not meet this week.
And, of course, that exemplified that something is missing in Largo these days.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition