LARGO - The main job of the members of the Largo City Commission, of course, is to uphold their oaths and they now have an opportunity at hand to exercise that obligation.
The chief business of any city is to see that law and order prevail and this is accomplished through the enforcement of the rules.
Members of the commission are, in a sense, guardians of the Charter, the basic legal document of the city, and they have a rare opportunity to fulfill the most important part of their jobs in the Rodney Woods case.
Woods appears to have violated a Charter provision that gives all administrative power to the city manager.
Because he had a claim that a citizen supposedly "threatened" him, he went directly to the police. That is a no-no. Have to go to the city manager first. The Charter makes this eminently clear.
And the writers of the Charter, that members of the commission are bound without any question to uphold, put in a severely penalizing provision for those who disobey the rule that all business must go through the manager.
The penalty is found in Section 2.08 of the Charter, which says this -
"Vacancies, forfeitures of office, filling of vacancies.
So it appears to be cut and dried. Woods is off the commission. If the commission does not act in accordance with the Charter and do so immediately why bother having a Charter at all?
"(b) Forfeitures of office. A member of the City Commission shall be removed from office and forfeit same if said member -
"(2) Violated any express prohibition of this Charter."
Section 2.07 lists "Prohibitions" and among them is the rule that any business with a city employee must be undertaken "solely through the office of the city manager."
This an item of business that can be done easily and swiftly. The facts are clear, demonstrated and not in dispute.
Things like hurricanes (which rarely, if ever, hit these shores) and the current tax considerations (no action from Tallahassee for at least two-plus weeks) are, by definition, on the back burner for now.
On hurricanes, what is the City Commission going to do, pass an ordinance saying any "tropical storm bearing the name of a person is forbidden from entering the City of Largo"?
As to the Woods case, he made his charge in public at the commission's May 22 meeting, not naming the person who supposedly threatened him, but then later, after the meeting told reporters the name and it was unwisely reported by the county's only daily newspaper and therein is a suggestion of defamation per se.
The Gazette wisely has delayed naming Woods's alleged verbal assailant until the issuance of the official police report which totally and completely exonerated Curtis Holmes, the target of the official police investigation.
As a sidenote to the May 22 events, one reliable source reports that a high ranking city official requested Woods not to make his accusatory statement at the commission meeting that night.
Holmes denied ever making any threat of any kind to Woods and told the investigator, Sgt. E.J. Sohoski, that his conversation with Woods on March 27 was brief because he was upset.
Sohoski's report says, "When asked why he was upset, Mr. Holmes stated that Commissioner Woods appeared to be inebriated and that he could smell the odor of alcohol on him."
The report goes on to say, "Mr. Holmes said that it was in poor taste to have a meeting with a constituent and show up 'partially in the bag'. Mr. Holmes further described Commissioner Woods as having slurred speech."
As to Woods's violations of the prohibitions contained in the city Charter, two responsible citizens with a long history of service to the city have filed a citizens complaint asking for action and that the charter be enforced.
They are former Mayor Bob Jackson and Chester Rowe.
Meanwhile, the Big Paper, which reports very little of what goes on in Largo (except to propagandize the bizarre and deviant) but sits back and once in a while issues a profundity full of emptiness, has tried to quash the Woods affair now that it has come to nothing.
Sohoski's report, in its "Finding of Fact" says ". . . it can be substantiated that during this (March 27) meeting Commissioner Woods and Curtis Holmes did speak about city business not relating to any threats. I could not establish probable cause or even reasonable suspicion that a crime occurred during this meeting."
Now it is up to the commission to uphold the law.
What it comes down to is this - does the legally formed and ordained charter of a municipality have the force and effect of law and are those who are under its jurisdiction bound by its