Largo Commission Takes Meeting on Road in Colossal Waste of Time
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - What must be counted as one big failure and waste of time was the City Commission's journey to the Hospice on Roosevelt Boulevard September 26 to "bring a meeting to the people."
It got very little attention from the citizenry, but the elected folks and staff people from the city showed up in force.
Had more residents shown up they would have probably been entertained as well as puzzled by the bizarre goings on at the hands of their mayor.
A possible enmity of gigantic proportions on the commission itself is building between Mayor Pat Gerard and Curtis Holmes, a candidate for the commission in the November election, should he be successful.
This was demonstrated at the community work session that attracted, at most, 10 citizens and they were outnumbered by the elected and staff people by four or five to one.
At the outset, Gerard impolitely refused to acknowledge Holmes as she entered the building, very pointedly ignoring him.
Then, during the meeting itself, when she attempted to suppress the embarrassment that the commission was feeling by the total lack of public interest in the exercise by urging people to ask questions and participate she cut Holmes off when he responded to the plea.
That came after the sparse public that was there ignored her pleas to participate and she mumbled, "Well, maybe later you will want to speak," leaving all on hand wondering why these folks ever left City Hall for this futile exercise.
In an obvious attempt to be helpful and sweeten the sharp and bitter taste of the failure of the meeting, Holmes stepped forward to ask questions about a presentation being made by a staff member.
But no sooner had that started then Gerard cut it all off curtly by tellng Holmes that "We are not going to have a dialogue." But told the staffer to go ahead with the answer to the question Holmes had put.
That left even some commission members wondering how rude the mayor could be.
Holmes was obviously trying to help a deadly situation by his participation but in a perfect example of "no good deed goes unpunished" he was squelched by a mayor whose definition of democracy seems to be lacking if not overhwhelmed by some sort of ersatz autoocracy.
As one key figure said, "It was total confusion. Are we having questions or not? They were asked for and when they came forth, Gerard stopped it. Hello! This was supposed to be a community meeting."
The discourtesy on the part of La Mayor was not limited to private citizens.
After a staff member's presentation on holiday lighting in the city, Commissioner Harriet Crozier said she would like decorations on the east side of town.
This was a departure from the staff's idea of proposing such decorations only to Highland Avenue and then "clustering" them at Central Park and on as far west as Clearwater-Largo Road then down that road.
Commissioner Gigi Arntzen agreed with Crozier and said she thought decorations were needed for those approaching from the east and leading to the center of the city.
That was terminated with a snarling and crisp, "Well, I disagree," from Gerard, delivered in a peremptory tone that all discussion was therewith ended.
Gerard is obviously a very ineffective mayor and seems to fertilize and water her own unpopularity, not only among the citizenry but with her colleagues on the commission.
In an amusing - and revealing - sidelight to the effectiveness of the city's web site the section on the candidates for election has been in business for three weeks and at latest count had less than 150 hits.
This indicates that apathy is solidly entrenched in Largo and no wonder, perhaps, if discourtesy from the top elected official is the hallmark of the city.
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