LARGO - After the debacle of trying to install an operator of the new restaurant at the city's revamped golf course (another deal that smacked of cronyism), the avowals from the city manager's office was that there "would be no more mistakes."
Staff members came before the City Commission on the golf course deal with no contract and with a supposed corporation that was not actually legal.
In response to all this, City Manager Steve Stanton, who has been proclaiming for years that he is "responsible for everything," said that he was going to take a more hands-on approach and avoid these gaffes from a city staff that apparently stumbles around with little or no direction.
Then came last week's commission meeting.
Stanton was out of town for six days, attending a three-day meeting in Reno, Nevada, but back in little old Largo the wheels were coming off another high profile city project.
One of those sitting blissfully on the dais who was part and parcel of the deal that seemed to be fragmenting right before the commission's collective eyes was the city's part time lawyer, Alan Zimmet.
Some probing, investigating and questioning is going on regarding Doctor Zimmet's pecuniary dealings with the city, but supposedly he took time off from counting the money he hauls out of Largo to take part in the acquisition of a chunk of property on West Bay Drive for which the city was willing to lay out $2 million (which, in and of itself, raised some eyebrows).
As the City Commission was being asked to put its imprimatur on the deal, one lessee, holding a portion of the property that the city was about to acquire, came forward with the startling news that he held a 15-year lease.
This came as news to Zimmet which elicited the muttered statement from one bystander that "for two thousand dollars plus a week we ought to get better service than that."
The idea behind the purchase of the property plays into the redevelopment of the area which those passing through will notice has taken place on one side of the road - the south side - but is still unaccomplished on the north side of West Bay.
What was before the commission was a request that it approve the plan to buy the four downtown lots grouped into one block. For some, the price seems high, they recollecting that the ground on which the police department stood - almost a whole block - went for some $800,000.
But cost was not the point, as it seldom is with an administration that finds money or the lack of it no object to any high-falutin' plans. Plenty more where that came from is the general spirit.
Merely hours before the commission sat to take up its business, the word came forth from the lease holder that he was good for 15 years more on the site. Once that news was out, Zimmet allowed as to how he learned of the supposed lease the previous week.
But he pulled his pants up, so to speak, and advised the commission that it could go ahead with a sales contract, review it in the middle of next month and then back out of the scheduled January 31 closing it is was so inclined.
Another matter before the commission last week also ground looped. In calculating new rates for the sewer system, the administration came forth with figures that could mean an increase of upwards of some 30 percent.
The previous figure cited for an increase had been 16 percent.
So that project went back to the drawing board, too.
Stanton was due back in town last weekend, so presumably some "hands on tactics" took place earlier this week.
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