LARGO - While the turmoil in Largo continues to sputter and boil and goes unreported in the county's only daily newspaper, a former Largo commissioner has called for an immediate investigation of events surrounding the Stanton affair.
"A fully independent attorney should be hired to conduct this thorough investigation and report back to the commission," Charlie Harper said last Friday. "The attorney must have the power to subpoena witnesses and place them under oath as a part of the investigation," Harper said.
Harper was elected to the commission in 2003. He did not seek re-election in 2006 when his term was up.
One key element Harper has focused on is the requirement in Section 2.06 (b) of the City Charter that says, "The mayor or a city commissioner shall report to the City Commission all violations or neglect of duty or any misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance of office, or improper conduct on the part of any elected or appointed official that may come to his or her attention."
Among other things, Harper cites Stanton's attendance at the National League of Cities meeting in Washington, D.C., dressed as a woman and wearing a name tag that said "Susan Stanton, Largo" as a violation.
"Starting with the January 1, 2007 time period when Mayor Gerard said she was informed of Stanton's personal situation, why did the mayor not inform the commission as the charter demands?" Harper asked.
Word did not come out on Stanton's bizarre plan to become a
woman until February 21.
Gerard and other city officials were brought into Stanton's "inner circle" early on and informed about an eight-page plan he had developed that would educate and inform the Largo populace about his intention of appearing as a woman.
Stanton says the original plan called for this revelation in June, but his friends at the Big Paper apparently double-crossed him and divulged his situation in February.
A blubbering editorial comment in the BP attempted to show that the paper had behaved in accordance with all the strictures of the gods of journalism throughout the sordid story.
Once Stanton was "outed," the BP took up its cudgels in defense of alternative lifeystles, transsexual operations and other bizarre and orgiastic endeavors that lead the common folk bewildered and consternated.
The propaganda and publicity efforts by the Big Paper failed however and Stanton was given the heave-ho by the commission on March 23 after Largo, with all this nonsense, had become the focus of the nation and cable TV which is always on the hunt for the unsavory.
Harper, ironically, cited an editorial statement in the county's only daily newspaper as support for his clarion call for an investigation.
"Elected (Largo) officials certainly should be familiar with the entire city Charter under which they operate, and should abide by it. However, in Largo no one appears to have a thorough grasp of the document."
Harper said that statement appeared May 20, 2005, obviously in a different context, but he now says that the thrust of the language is still true.
"Two years have passed and things in Largo have only degenerated more," Harper said. "A city manager has been removed as a starting point in rebuilding faith in city government, but much remains to be done."
Harper said, "The situation that led to the dismissal of Stanton should be fully and completely investigated by the City Commission using the full authority granted the commission under the city Charter."
Harper pointed out that in Stanton's own testimony several city employees including the police and fire chiefs and the Human Relations director were involved in the "eight-page plan."
"Were these employees ordered to do these things by Stanton or did they do them of their own accord," Harper asked.
"Was the mayor's husband involved in the 'Stanton plan'? If so, why?"
Eric Gerard was named by Stanton as one of those involved in his planning. He is a flack and was dragged in for his public relations expertise apparently.
"These are hard questions," Harper said, "But they must be answered if the citizens are to have faith in the Largo city