What escapes the potentates at Largo City Hall is the fact that the City Commission is the creation of the City Charter.
Not vice versa. Sovereignty, to use a grand term, resides in the citizens of Largo. Those citizens should be the creators and editors of the City Charter.
But the charter review is under the complete control of the commission.
The commission will pick -- one way or the other -- members of the charter review committee and when that body's work is done, the commission will vet the result and accept and reject, pick and choose, keep and throw out what it darn well pleases.
It could make those charter review committee members about as effetive as, say, the Finance Advisory Board, a collection of citizens who take their task seriously, work hard and then find their product totally ignored. Totally ignored.
No wonder Largo has trouble getting the citizenry to vote in local elections or participate in our democracy.
If you doubt that the people of the city are supposed to play a sovereignty role, read these words in the Preamble of the Charter:
"The citizens of Largo . . . do hereby establish . . ."
Any creation, change, amendment, editing of the Charter should be done directly by the people without interference, help, guidance or involvement of the commission or any employee of the city.
To throw together a review committee of cronies, old pals and old reliables who act as an extension of the interests and peccadilloes of the commission is meaningless and totally ineffective.
A review commitee should be a cross section of the city and should be made up of citizens from designated categories (business, education, professional, plain old working folks) and should be drawn in a lottery.
Whatever the review group comes up with, once it has been reviewed by an independent and competent lawyer for form and substance, should go directly to the voters.
In other words, keep the commission and the city administration out of it.
Whenever total control is being exercised it betokens fear on the part of the controller. And fear is generated by the idea that one will not get something one wants or lose something one has.
The Largo commission raises a lot of questions with its antics. This is not new. There is always the hint of something being rotten in Denmark, as it were, with the accompanying protestations of total innocence. (Witness how Gay Gentry was originally appointed to the commission.)
Then, on those occasions when the heat is on heavily, or the pressure is cranked up, members of the commission will engage in accusations and bring up old resentments and irritations. It has all the meanness of family buried secrets that would afford Eugene O'Neill the ingredients for a fascinating play.
The commission has refused to move ahead on a clear violation by two of its sitting members of a prohibition contained in the charter.
A violation of any prohibition contained in the charter calls for the removal of the violators.
With its total lack of knowledge of basic eighth grade civics and the inability to distinguish one aspect of the case from another, members of the commission think that their mandated action must await the verdict of a State Attorney investigation.
Of course, the State Attorney whitewashed the whole violation aspect with added confusion over what the real issue was.
Whatever the S.A. came up with had nothing to do with the commission's responsibility to obey its own charter.
What you are seeing, folks, is a meltdown.
This is what happens with crony government.
This is what happens when there is a government of people, not laws.
That is what the founders of America cautioned against.
Now Largo reaps the whirlwind.
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