LARGO - Had the Largo City Commission not fired City Manager Steve Stanton on March 23, there would have been massive resignations from all the top members of the city staff.
Another aspect of the story, that is now dribbling out from a highly placed but extremely reliable source who must remain unidentified, is that Stanton, in the months leading up to his plan to reveal his intention to change his gender to a woman, used a strategy of diminishing his immediate top aides.
The purpose in that, the source said, was to make himself totally indispensable.
What was going on in this area was not known until last week's commission meeting when it was revealed that Mac Craig, the acting city manager, had not received a raise last year.
What unfolded at last week's meeting during the discussion to give Craig compensation while he is acting city manager is that Craig did not know until last Wednesday that he had been passed over for the annual raise.
It turns out that Mike Stephanopoulos, the city's director of development, did not get a raise either, and Henry Schubert, assistant city manager, got half of what others received.
Also, Schubert was suspended for a minor infraction which,
at the time, sent a flurry of questions through informed observers wondering why such draconian action was taken for a minor slip-up.
The source said Stanton's intention was to "diminish" or even run off these top key people.
The source said that now it can be seen why Stanton engaged
in consistent "bad mouthing" of Craig, Schubert and Stephanopolous late last year.
Subsequently, the source said, it was ascertained that Stanton was following a very well thought out plan - he wanted to get rid of the three top aides thus making himself totally indispensable and not fireable and the commission would have to accept his gender change.
It could be that some of the top personnel were getting the drift of Stanton's campaign against them.
For example, in the week leading up to his firing, there was a brief negotiation between Stanton and the city about city equipment in his possession and how it should be handled.
At one point, he requested that he be allowed to buy some of the stuff. This was before the actual firing and when he still, some thought, had a chance of surviving.
Once it was decided that all city materials Stanton had in his possession were to be returned, Craig went to Stanton's home immediately and seized it.
There was surprise and some speculation about that, such as why the action was taken so speedily, before the firing was an absolute fact.
While Stanton and Mayor Pat Gerard tried to create the impression in the days leading up to Stanton's firing from the time, February 21, that it was revealed that he had a desire to become "Susan Stanton," that he had full support within city ranks, the opposite was the case.
In fact, the source said, had Stanton survived the March 23 firing meeting, there would have been mass resignations from department heads and other key personnel in the city.
A false impression was created by using ranking city employees, at the cost of their jobs, to appear as background in TV newscasts concerning the uproar Stanton had created as though they were supporting him.
That was not the true situation, the source said. Employees were ordered to be in place. The power of Stanton in relation to employees was so powerful, reports are, that no employee dared to go against or disobey a Stanton order.
The Largo story is now turning into one, it seems, of overturning rocks.
There are other problems and aspects, some involving the conduct of some elected officials.
With the greatly feared Stanton now gone, some top city staff members are coming forward with stories and details.
The Stanton story still has legs and it appears it will stagger on for some time with new revelations and developments. One of them, it is said, will develop next month and will be some consequence, sources say.