LARGO - If those present at and those watching on Channel 15 the Largo City Commission meeting last week thought they might be seeing scenes from Alice in Wonderland, no wonder.
The rules of the commission apparently are now these - as laid down by Mayor Pat Gerard who, in the "Alice" context, of course would be the Queen of Hearts.
Rule 1 - Never talk when I am trying to interrupt you.
Rule 2 - Always remember a point of order is an order of point and must always be taken up even when nonsensical.
Rule 3 - There is no such notion as "having the floor"; if the Queen of Hearts discerns anything not to her liking all activity is suspended.
Rule 4 - The rules are what the Queen of Hearts say they are and there shall be no contradiction.
Rule 5 - Anyone daring to contradict the Queen of Hearts is subject to immediate arrest.
Rule 6 - The word "disruption" means what the Queen of Hearts defines it to be and is not open to discussion.
Rule 7 - When the Queen of Hearts sits in judgment there shall be sentence first and trial later.
Gerard interrupted the meeting loudly and violently May 3 when things were not to her liking.
After six minutes of interruptus the meeting resumed with Commissioner Harriet Crozier off on a laborious recounting of her adventures of dredging around in city records and procedures in reference to nothing that was in question.
The one bright spot in the May 3 meeting was the performance of Alan Zimmet, the city attorney, who was the subject of the discussion.
Unflappable, calm, and with no appearance of anger Zimmet answered in a reasonable and lawyer-like way the questions put to him by Commissioner Mary Black.
Black evinced no anger either. She did have that usual persistence that seems to be her hallmark.
But Madame la Mayor, Le Reine de les Coeurs, apparently felt she needed to defend a man who needs no champion to take up sword or mace in his behalf.
Gerard delivered the insults of insults to Zimmet when she opened the dialogue on the issue of his performance and possible raise for Zimmet.
She castigated the poor guy with words that were unnecessary (and maybe untrue). "There's a contingency out there that wants him gone, doesn't like the city attorney, questions his ethics."
It was a like guy saying about his wife, "I know there are lots of people who think she is a slob, and can't cook and falls asleep eating apples but I love her."
Hey, you don't suggest negative ideas about someone you are supporting; you don't set up straw comments that you have to knock down. That's plain stupid and shows a distinct lack of experience and sophistication.
The guy most on the spot on that extraordinary night was undoubtedly Sgt. Mark Young, the police officer on duty, who moved across the room and up onto the dais and stationed himself next to Commissioner Mary Black.
Black had been engaging in a colloquy with Zimmet and they were disagreeing in polite tones. That's when Madame la Mayor decided to play the role of a hysterical totalitarian.
Whether Black felt intimidated or not, the action was intimidating. She was told to stop speaking or face arrest.
That's what Largo has come to with this unqualified and way over her head mayor.
The bottom line on the Zimmet raise, which would have brought him to more than $113,000 a year for part time work, was that all plans are on hold until it is seen what the Legislature does in its plans to re-structure tax patterns in the state.
Zimmet has plenty of pocket money, though.
He and his firm were paid, according to city records, $506,129.65 in fiscal year 2006 (ending last September 30) and has been paid $406,303.13 through the end of April in the current 2007 fiscal year. In other words, Zimmet & Co. are on track to rake in about $700,000 this year.