Holmes Gets Data From RPA and Finds a Cluttered Mess
By Leo Coughlin
LARGO - Commissioner Curtis Holmes finally got the information he was seeking from the Recreation, Parks and Art Department in reference to alcohol sales at the Cultural Center, but found the information utterly inadequate.
In an acknowledging message last Friday to Joan Byrne, director of RPA, Holmes said, "I really appreciate your staff assembling the requested receipts. Despite my best efforts I'm having a very difficult time making sense out of them."
He also pointed out discrepancies in such information that he could decipher.
Besides giving him what he requested, RPA provided a muddled mix of receipts which Holmes told Byrne, "I did NOT request, e.g., invoices from the Stuffed Mushroom, Sysco Systems, numerous tickets for water, snack items, etc."
Holmes contrasted figures listed in the FY2011 budget from RPA with information that was given to him late last week.
At the October 5 City Commission meeting, city officials refused to give Holmes the information he requested and Mayor Pat Gerard went into a tirade of total misinformation and nonsense that he was not entitled to the information.
When Holmes cited in a message to the city manager, Norton Craig, language from the city Charter that clearly entitled him to information, Craig immediately ordered that the data be given to Holmes.
One former commission member informed of this, said, "A massive cover up is going on."
After examining the disorganized information (some of it totally unreadable) from RPA, which looked as though a drunken chimpanzee had gotten into Largo record keeping areas, Holmes discovered glaring discrepancies.
Holmes specified some of these things in his message to Byrne Friday -
"Budget (what RPA listed in the FY2011 budget) shows National Distributing being paid $6,200, receipts in hand total $405.00.
"Budget shows Premier Beverage receiving $4,000, receipts total $822.00.
"Budget page shows Miscellaneous for resale, $2,200…no receipts for that.
"(There are) invoices for Johnson Brothers totaling $3,354 with no entry on budget report.
"Finally, according to the budget page, the total expenditure is $26,500 but the receipts in hand total $17,303."
A former member of the commission said, "To say something is amiss, is the understatement of the year."
In her response to Holmes, Byrne said, "…the same liquor inventory that is used by the concession stand is also used to provide the contractually guaranteed beverages to visiting artists and is also used at the bars provided at rental functions."
To this rather startling disclosure, Holmes asked, "…am I to understand that we're giving complimentary alcohol to 'visiting artists'? Please understand, I'm not objecting to this merely wondering how we can tell the taxpayers of Largo how we're spending their money…is there an accounting for the 'comped' beverage? Finally, am I to understand that the city does not maintain a basic spreadsheet on these expenditures and revenues? It would have been so simple to merely email that rather than all the copies."
As to the alcoholic beverage inventory that Recreation, Parks and Arts has, Byrne reported that on hand at present are 254 1/4 bottles of spirits - that is, vodka, gin, rum, scotch and bourbon whiskey, tequila, brandy plus cordials and schnapps.
All of this hard liquor consists of top shelf brand names meaning, obviously, that top prices are being paid for the booze that goes through transactions at the Cultural Center bar which features a cash register the drawer of which remains consistently open.
In addition to the hard stuff, on hand in the inventory, according to Byrne, are 358 bottles of wine, size not specified.
On top of that, 2,037 bottles of beer, all expensive brand names, are listed.
"Wow," said the former commissioner, "there's a fortune in hooch there."
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