Largo Commission Appears Reluctant, But the Money Gets Spent Anyway
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - Mayor Pat Gerard, never historically averse to spending taxpayers' money, might have earned what in the old days was called a "five bell bulletin" on the AP wire when she looked askance at the kind of money the Parks and Recreation empire wants to spend at the Southwest Recreation Center.
"That's two hundred and fifty dollars a square foot," offered, "pretty high."
Yes, indeed pretty high, despite the averment of Joan Byrne, empress of the mighty Parks and Recreation Department, that "these days that's the going rate, given construction costs."
"Oh, no," was Gerard's rejoinder who said she was well familiar with another construction project that she did not further define that was being done at a much lower figure.
But, it turns out, the real cost, as testimony at the August 7 commission meeting revealed, is not really known yet.
An initial $187,685 is being spent for design and the results of that work will give a better idea of what the remaining cost of the project, currently set at $2.2 million, will actually be.
With that kind of predicate, of course, the cost could go much higher. But if you follow that path you will see that having spent an initial chunk of do-re-mi, it would be incumbent to go ahead with the remainder of the project no matter the cost.
Similar to sending soldiers to faraway places and then daring anyone to leave them stranded there without funds for bullets, gasoline or sandwiches.
This extravaganza of spending at Southwest Rec is going to be funded by Penny for Pinellas money which everyone knows is the equivalent of free money, so what the hey, throw the cat another dollop of caviar.
After this jousting, the commission then took up the matter of the junket of the mayor and Commissioner Rodney Woods to New Orleans in November when the weather there is so spectacularly beautiful for the annual orgy of the National League of Cities.
Commissioner Andy Guyette was on the right track when he said he could understand the reason for the trip, but, with the tax and expense situation and tough budget decisions coming up "we need to show the community we are willing to cut expenses."
At stake was $3,071.56 in fun money for the two who might be tempted to poke into Brennan's or indulge in a Hurricane cocktail. Gerard carefully pointed out that she was hoteling at a comparative dump and Woods proclaimed he had the same accommodations.
Harriet Crozier came up with the idea of paying for the boondoggle out of fiscal 2007 funds and this was found feasible.
Gay Gentry whooped up the enormous educational benefits of being at the stellar event, proving once again that she has been totally co-opted by the League of Cities gig in all its manifestations.
Mary Black chipped in with the idea that only the mayor should go on the trip, and Gerard even testified that she did not like New Orleans (but being a devoted public servant is obviously willing to sacrifice her own like and dislikes for the good of the command).
Woods said he was going to his old stomping grounds "to learn" and promised a full scale report of the all the wondrous and fascinating information that he will accumulate.
This would be novel, for in all the history in Largo of these junkets, it has never been recorded that the revelers ever came back with a written or oral memoir of their adventures among the big dogs.
Needless to say, Guyette was dissuaded from his early position, all hands paid lip service in doubting somehow the rectitude of such a boondoggle at this time, but the bottom line vote was yes, go to New Orleans, 7-0.
Next year, remember, it will be somebody else's turn so this is no time to turn off the fun and games for anyone.
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