Jackson Valedictory One Highlight Among Several Largo Concerns
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - Bob Jackson's declaration at last week's City Commission meeting that he would not sue the city to get his name on the ballot - after blaming the commission for not acting to return his name to the ballot - was hardly a magnanimous gesture.
Absentee ballots were deadlined the next day, so even if Jackson were restored to the race for mayor his name would not have appeared on thousands of absentee ballots.
Officials - with their motives maybe questionable - seized the opportunity, got Jackson off the ballot with a swift move, and denied Largo voters a choice for mayor.
The former mayor had his chance to fight - and he had a good cause in the minds of many - before his statement at the commission meeting, but he was reluctant to spend the money.
His failure to sign the Loyalty Oath document was compounded by the City Clerk's failure to perform her job and the stunning violation of law (it is a third degree felony) by the notary public, also a city employee, to falsely notarize a document.
Jackson's statement to the commission was no doubt his political valedictory.
But what was interesting in developments in Largo last week, and it was brought up in two different meetings, is that the regular kind of work done by public works departments everywhere else in the world are parceled out in Largo to three city departments, in addition to Public Works, and several outside contractors.
This glaring evidence of what many would call mismanagement was brought to the attention of the City Commission (and attending staff as well as the public) by Curtis Holmes, a candidate for seat 3 in the only contest on the November ballot.
In the city, joining Public Works in cutting grass are Environmental Services, Parks and Recreation, and the golf course, plus, of course, at least five (and sometimes seven) outside contractors.
An explanation of the outsourcing that wouldn't hold water any place but in Largo's Alice in Wonderland world came from the city manager, Mac Craig, who said that the city doesn't have enough money to pay employees and thus outside contractors are needed.
That ineluctably conjures up a scenario of employees being let go so that enough money is available to pay outside contractors whose work enables the city to cut back on more employees which provides more money for outside contractors, and so forth.
Craig also cited some rigamarole about funding problems, that employees can't be paid out of certain pots of money yet the city can pay for contractors.
"If that isn't a blatant description of poor management, I don't know what is," one former high ranking city official said.
It is said that the reason jobs ordinarily performed by Public Works was farmed out to other city departments came about because of disagreements between Steve Stanton, the former city manager who turned himself into a woman, and Chris Kubala, then head of Public Works.
Apparently, the story goes, Stanton undercut Kubala by reducing his responsibilities and the scope of his department.
Another glitch came up in the city's election process that has led to an inevitable Alphonse and Gaston act.
It goes this way - 10 days after candidates qualify the rules say that space will be made available on the city's web site for candidates to post a photograph and a statement. After posting is done, each candidate can make one subsequent change.
Of course, that leads to who posts first because whoever does cannot post last and a candidate is left with the dilemma of having a statement posted and an opponent of rebutting.
It is a dilemma.
The City Clerk says she has no authority to decree deadlines for the postings so timing becomes a gnawing problem for candidates.
"This is another example of the city creating problems for itself by not thinking things through," one observer opined.
"If the rule were that the statements must be submitted by a time certain on a date certain and no changes are allowed, there would be no problem," that source said.
The word now from City Hall is that the election procedures, especially in light of the debacle with Jackson, are going to be reviewed and perhaps straightened out.
And then there is the anomaly that goes on week after week at Citizen Comments during the commission meetings. Speakers are admonished not to make personal attacks and (in this election season) to not electioneer, but week after week people who own businesses come to the microphone to promote their endeavors.
"Which is why," one ever alert citizen said, "Largo is known as the droopy drawers city."
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