BELLEAIR BLUFFS -- John Tabor, a gadfly who uncustomarily has been absent from several city commission meeetings, revisited, during citizen comments, an issue at Monday night's commission work session that had been put to rest several weeks ago.
That was the purchase for use of the Sheriff's Office of a radar gun that was mistakenly okayed.
Commissioner Dave Shimkus pressed the issue at the April 18 meeting that he had initiated April 11.
A thorough discussion last month turned up the information that the radar gun had already been purchased at the time the commission discussed it.
At that time, Shimkus expressed upset, referring to a "lie" in connection with the incident when there was obviously only confusion. The commissioner, Bob Russo, to whom Shimkus's remarks were directed, kept silent.
Debra Sullivan, the city clerk, pointed out in April that although the radar gun was not specifically budgeted, the $500 spent can easily be absorbed in the police budget.
Russo used the occasion of Tabor's bringing the subject up again Monday to tell Shimkus in a heated tone of voice, across the table where the worksession was taking place, that he had apologized once for the mistake and was sick of hearing about it.
Tabor and Wally Witham, both former members of the commission, sit as grandees at commission meetings chipping in with observations and "expertise" and "better ways" of doing things.
Other cities in the area generally don't have the benefit of such wise men to guide their deliberations. In most cases, when someone is ousted from office he or she is rarely seen again.
That contretemps at the outset of the meeting apparently was a ticking time bomb, because at the close of the meeting, when commissioners get to make additional comments, Shimkus once again went at it.
He said he didn't appreciate being addressed by Russo in such a way earlier which then incited Russo to stand up and say he had "heard enough."
As Russo walked toward Shimkus's place at the table, a look of fearful apprehension crossed the face of Mayor Chris Arbutine, who strives for comity at meetings, while everyone else in the room sat in frozen fascination.
Shimkus was mouthing suggestions of the law having been "broken" and that Russo should be removed from office. Russo kept walking and found refuge for himself and his anger in the adjoining commissioners' office.
In regular business, the commission heard a presentation from Mike Crawford of the Pinellas Planning Council on ways to solve parking problems, reviewed an ordinance relating to home businesses, got an update on a court case involving a code violation and discussed the use of alcohol by those private parties who rent the community center.
But it was the Shimkus-Russo act that got everyone's circulation pounding. Tabor, who usually plays a Cassandra role, in this case became almost a fight promoter.
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