LARGO -- The arcane and the complicated occupied most of the session for the Largo City Commission's work session Tuesday, but Mayor Bob Jackson got off a couple of salvos at City Manager Steve Stanton in the ongoing war within the walls of the city hall.
Medical insurance for employees, ultraviolet radiation to disinfect effluent and the subject of an international property maintenance code were issues facing the commissioners who bore up under the onslaught of this mind numbing recipe.
More interesting was the continuation of the discussion of the cafe in the new $23 million library whose opening is just a little more than six weeks away.
The commission was persuaded by Assistant City Manager Henry Schubert and Barbara Murphey, who will step down as library director this summer, that coffee and snack shops are de rigeur in 21st Century America.
What older folks envisioned as a library -- a quiet, studious place for serious people -- is out the window. Now, to take the present Largo Library as a model, it is a day care center with wild moppets running around, the hard to hear bellowing their questions, shelves upon shelves of junk novelists, grungy videos being pawed over by the TV obsessed, half naked teen-agers loitering among the stacks, and a squadron of expensive personal computers available to those too cheap to buy their own.
Tuesday's night devotion of time to the subject was more than an exploration of what the coffee shop in the new library should be, it was exemplary and a point of contention in how business is done in the city.
At the the June 7 meeting, when the topic first came up, Jackson raised the very pertinent question "Why are we discussing these various aspects now when you want to sign the contract when they should have been discussed at the beginning."
He made the same statement Tuesday, the only difference being that this week Stanton was present.
Jackson made clear that the commission should have been in on the planning for the coffee shop at the outset, and that, again, Steve Stanton, the city manager, had pulled an end run on the commission.
Jackson is frustrated, and has expressed himself in this regard, that the city staff (which is totally under the direction of Stanton) too often -- one could say almost always -- presents proposals to the commission as a fait accompli.
Stanton meets with several members of the commission on an ongoing, weekly basis, and undoubtedly lines up support for what is later presented at public meetings.
Jackson also unloaded on Stanton in regard to the public meeting held Monday regarding the rivals for the development in and around what was Crossroads Mall.
Jackson was highly disturbed that a city paid consultant, Renaissance Planning Group, acted as an advocate for Boulder Venture at the Monday meeting.
That company is in rivalry with Fred Thomas's Pinch-a-Penny company for development in the area southeast of the U.S. 19-Roosevelt Boulevard intersection.
"I think it was highly unethical that someone we paid used that information to favor one of the parties," Jackson said.
Another point of contention came up at the June 7 meeting which reveals the blood battle going on behind closed doors in city hall and of which the public is mostly unaware.
That was Jackson's comment to Alan Zimmet, the part time city attorney who is paid more than $2,000 a week, regarding a contract the city has with a consultant in the amount of $24,817.
Jackson had already calumniated Zimmet for his job performance (which Zimmet meekly assented to and promised "to do better") and then, citing the contract, said, "This is close enough to $25,000 for you to have said something."
There is a rule that contracts under $25,000 do not have to be bid out. Stanton very often comes very close to the margin in taking advantage of the rule. And this is what Jackson was talking about.
Earlier in the meeting, the commission had given Zimmet another 3 percent raise (3.6 annualized because he got a raise last August, too).
Zimmet's master is Stanton under whose control he works. Much of the sentiment among members of the new Charter Review Commission, which held its first meeting last night, is to put Zimmet under the authority of the commission, as well as the city clerk.
Zimmet, who has part time gigs with several other tax supported entities, takes more than $400,000 a year out of Largo.
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