LARGO -- Commissioner Jean Halvorsen cut the Gordian knot the Largo City Commission had tied itself in, and with her vote Tuesday night resolved and ended the controversy over the March election violations.
Her vote supported a motion by Commissioner Gay Gentry to drop any investigation otherwise required under the City Charter and put the final stamp on the idea that Largo is a city that operates by whimsy, not by the rule of law, and further solidified the image of Largo as the "droopy drawers" city in Pinellas County.
The city achieved this dubious distinction two days after its 100th anniversary.
Whimsy -- that is, make it up as you go along -- was also the keynote in selecting the Charter Review Commission, a procedure that also ignored city law.
Halvorsen, absent at the last meeting when Gentry's motion failed, 3-1, because four votes are needed, was obviously tired of the controversy and decided to end it. She had given assurances privately as recently as Monday that she would not approve the Gentry motion.
Had she voted against, it would have left the vote at 3-2 and would have put the commission at loggerheads with no sign of resolution in view.
Commissioners Pat Gerard and Harriet Crozier, alleged violators of the election laws by making contributions to candidates had to recuse from the voting. The rules require four votes to carry a motion.
Once they were in the clear, Gerard and Crozier apologized for their actions in the 2005 election.
On the selection of the Charter Review Committee, the current charter forbids a person being named to more than one city group.
This was by-passed by the special pleading of Alan Zimmet, the part time city attorney who gets paid more than $2,000 a week, who maintained that the Charter Review Commitee was different than a city board, was an ad hoc group and not subject to the law.
As it turned out, eight members of the new Charter Review Committee are already on other city committees. They are the Rev. J. Arnold Johnson, Chester Rowe, Jim Janowski, Lendel Bright, Howard Smith, Bruce Geer, Charles Gaudreau and Frederick Smith.
The others are J.B. Butler, George Feaster, Joe Falanga, Shirely Craig, Bruce McManus, Robert Murray, and Ned Ford.
Alternates are Harold Hunter, Jim Hannon, Dr. David Kudelko and Ernie Bach.
Craig is the wife of an assistant city manager, Mac Craig, which illustrates the inbred and incestuous nature of the committee.
The City Charter, Section 9.07, is clear and explicit on persons serving on more than one group --
"No person may serve as a member of any board, office or agency of the City of Largo while that person is a member of another board, office or agency of the city."
That section goes on to say, "However, nothing herein shall preclude any person from accepting any appointment provided that he or she resigns his or her former position prior to or simultaneously with acceptance of the new appointment."
The final irony, no doubt escaping the notice of the befuddled commissioners, is that they were naming a group that ostensibly will define the fundamental law of Largo.
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