LARGO -- The Largo City Commissison will substantially be the entity that makes the final decision on any changes that may be made to the city's charter.
Only Commissioner Mary Black offered an amendment that would require that all recommended changes go to the voters. "Every attempt will be made by the commission to place before the voters recommended changes by the committee."
This was opposed right off the bat by Mayor Bob Jackson who obviously wants the commission to have the final say on any possible changes in the charter.
Black's amendment got support from Commissioners Andy Guyette and Jean Halvorsen and was opposed by Jackson and Commissioners Pat Gerard and Gay Gentry, resulting in tie vote, This puts the issue over to the next meeting for decision.
Black clashed with Commissioner Gay Gentry who had asserted that the Charter Review Committee would be made up of citizens of great integrity.
She said that there was a lot of public lack of confidence in the current commission, and that putting all suggestions to the voters might overcome this situation.
Underlying Black's view, most likely, is the situation of having two commissioners remaining on the commission, despite city law, who broke election laws. They are Pat Gerard and Harriet Crozier, who was absent Tuesday night.
Later, Gerard attacked Black's notion that there was a lack of integrity on the commission, a strange position to take in the eyes of many observers, given Gerard's present situation in regard to her testimony given to the State Attorney in the probe of the election violations.
Gerard told the investigator that she knew nothing about any constraints on making contributions to candidates although she had been an active participant in the commission discussion on the very subject on June 22, 2004, nine months before.
Black also suggested that the 15 members should be drawn by lottery from the list of applicants. Gentry strongly opposed this, reluctant, obviously, to give up any control over who serves.
Commissioners apparently each wants his or her own representative on the committee to push whatever agenda might be in the offing.
Thus the Charter Review Committee is merely a smoke and mirrors exercise to create the impression of citizen involvement when actually all changes or none will be decided by the commission.
Alan Zimmett, the part time city attorney who is paid about $2,000 a week, made a mumbo-jumbo supposed legal argument that the commission had to have the final say.
In approving a resolution Tuesday night at its regular meeting to have the commission appoint members to a Charter Review Committee, the commission, in effect, merely appointed a ghost panel.
Instead of drawing its makeup from a cross section of citizenry which would then be free to construct changes to the charter and then have those changes go directly to the voters for referendum, the Charter Review Committee is merely an extension of the commission itself.
The resolution establishing the committee approved Tuesday night specifies that the group will be made up of 15 people, each to be chosen by commission members.
The discussion among the commission Tuesday night was hot and heavy at times, mostly because in a sense, their futures are at stake. If, for example, changes recommended are deep sixed, it could reflect on the individual commission members.
One observer noted, "watch who is named. There will be no surprises. The good old boy/gal network will prevail."
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