Guyette Report at Largo Meeting Triggers Wave of Anti-King Voices
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - When Commissioner Andy Guyette mentioned at Largo's City Commission meeting August 21 that the subject of a statue memorial to Martin Luther King needed to be re-discussed at a workshop meeting because of the reaction he had from the community, he was bringing up what was only the tip of the iceberg.
Guyette said he had heard from many citizens opposing the expense of $60,000 for the statue.
But that comment at the Tuesday meeting only opened the gates to a flood of e-mails that poured into city hall with citizens protesting the idea.
When Guyette made his comments, the chief proponent of the expenditure, Commissioner Rodney Woods who sits right next to Guyette, managed to control his frustration, but it was evident he was fuming.
The subject came up again at the end of the meeting when City Manager Mac Craig inquired as to whether the King memorial idea should be scheduled for a future work shop.
Mayor Pat Gerard handled that question as though she were the last word and authority on what goes into a commission agenda, although she has no more power than any other member of the commission. Her job only is to preside at meetings.
In her peremptory way, Gerard's response to Craig was a curt "No." Guyette reiterated his view that it should be discussed and Woods chimed in with a "No."
Other commission members held their counsel except for Harriet Crozier who asked Guyette, "Did the people not want it for any other reason than the expenditure?"
Guyette told her that what he heard from the people is that the money would be better spent on much needed sidewalks.
Gerard closed out the discussion - at the very end of the meeting - by urging that the subject be discussed during budget talks and then voted up or down.
This satisfied Guyette because there are very strong intimations of how the vote will go.
Before this mild scrimmage, Commissioner Gay Gentry held the commission, those in the chamber and the TV audience, enthralled with a detailed report of a recent excursion by her to Orlando for one of those League of Cities clambakes.
This went on for 15 hours . . . er, minutes (it seemed like hours to the audience which writhed in agony wishing and urging the clock on to the time of merciful release).
It was a soporific performance and there were reports that citizens watching Channel 15 in their homes throughout Largo needed to be revived from deep sleep to make their way to bed.
Gentry explained as part of this punctilious and detailed performance that she felt it was a responsibility for officials who go on these junkets to report back to the people who provide the money for the trips.
In that vein she said she hoped that Gerard and Woods would bring back a fascinating report from their trip in November to New Orleans for the National League of Cities orgy.
Woods eagerly averred that he would certainly do this, more than willing to share, he said, from the phenomenal learning experience that will take place in what is more or less his hometown.
Gerard said, "Yes, I think we should schedule a couple of work shop meetings to go over everything."
Woods brightened at this, but obviously missed the point that Gerard, in her sardonic way, was being sarcastic.
Gerard made it clear - "I was kidding," she said. "I will not give a report."
This draw this comment from one elected official - "She should be ashamed of herself for making the comment she did."
So much for responsibility to the citizenry.
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