Who's Running Largo? Not the City Commission, Judging by Gerard Response
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - Mayor Pat Gerard raised the question at the July 21 City Commission of who was basically running the city - the elected body or the staff.
She accused City Manager Mac Craig of "Making us (the City Commission) look like idiots."
What prompted that was the signs placed at city parks that triggered an outburst of outrage from citizens.
Gerard was clearly seething with anger at the July 21 meeting and demanded to know who had placed or had ordered the signs to be placed.
Craig said, "We'll find out."
Who's running Largo?
The answer came late Tuesday.
It is not Gerard and most likely not the commission that she heads.
An opportunity for Craig to reveal his findings came at last week's commission meeting. Nothing was forthcoming. No member of the commission asked the question.
Commission members, queried Monday as to why they did not ask the question last week, refused to answer - except Gerard.
And this was her answer late Tuesday, in writing -
"I have spoken with Mr. Craig about the signs. He has said he does not know who put the signs up. The issue is closed for me."
There you have it. Craig reigns supreme in Largo. Elected officials come in second or somewhere down the line.
Gerard's docile surrendering to the power of Craig was in sharp contrast to her performance July 21 when she sharply admonished Craig and the city staff that they "had it backwards. We run the city," she said, referring to the commission.
That no longer appears to be the case, at least in her eyes.
Interestingly enough, the question of who put up the signs that evoked the citizen outcry, was asked of Craig and Joan Byrne, who runs the Parks and Recreation Department.
Their answers came last week and both lied.
The question to Craig -
His answer -
Actually, the number listed on the sign is a city number. It was called immediately upon receiving Craig's answer. A female voice answered. It said - "City of Largo. Recreation Division."
The question to Byrne -
Her answer -
Like Craig, Byrne apparently has a problem with the truth also. The signs were in evidence July 7 when the first citizen outburst occurred. They were still there the following Sunday, July 12.
On Monday, the following query was sent to Gerard and other commission members -
"At the July 21 City Commission meeting, City Manager Craig, in reference to the question of who placed signs at Bonner Park (particularly) and the Nature Preserve said, 'We'll find out.' No answer was volunteered at your commission meeting last week (August 4), two weeks later. Why didn't you ask him?"
Only Gerard responded and wrote this -
Lots of implications in that answer.
Craig seemed sure he knew last week that it was not any city personnel. Now he does not know. A mayor seething with anger and wanting answers three weeks ago is now a docile lamb.
Included in Gerard's response was a request that e-mail not be sent to the address at which she received the query, although it is the very same address used by Shirley Frick, secretary to the commission, when she sends e-mail to individual members of the commission. Thus a public e-mail address.
So the concerns of citizens who wonder about how the city drifts, leaderless, and wonder who's in charge? who's guiding the city? received that answer this week.
And there have been challenges from citizens. As an example, City Hall received an e-mail this week from a citizen who raised the exact question that is on the minds of many.
The e-mail, from "Sam Carter," read, in part -
Not much, obviously, if Gerard's answer Tuesday is taken as a guide.
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