LARGO -- The Largo City Commission by a vote of 4-3, that did not make any sense on the part of two of the commssioners voting, approved a 4 percent raise for City Manager Steve Stanton at its regular meeting Tuesday night.
But the motion made by Commissioner Gay Gentry failed because such a raise requires five votes, in accordance with Secton 3.01 of the Charter ("The City Commission shall, by a vote of not less than five of its members, appoint a City Manager and fix his compensation.")
Thus, Stanton's salary stays at the current $124,000. His total compensation package is $144,880.
The question now is whether Stanton may possibly invoke Section 4 of his contract which specifies that "If the City Commission approves a lesser percentage increase than is given to other Executive Management employees, such action may be considered a termination without cause . . . at the option of the Employe."
If the commission approves raises for executives, Stanton could invoke that provision and walk away with close to a $150,000 compensation package.
Amazingly, Mayor Bob Jackson and Jean Halvorsen voted against the raise although their written evaluations of Stanton's performance was listed as satisfactory overall.
Commissioner Mary Black gave Stanton the worst evaluation marks and was the third opposing vote.
At stake for Largo is a future possibly without Stanton. A high, well placed and authoritative figure has said that he will be fired after the election in March.
Having just added a stint at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government to his resume and a reputation as a highly competent technician along with a severance package in the neighborhood of $150,000, Stanton, it would seem, has few worries about his future.
He has been on the scene for 15 years in Largo so his departure would be a jolt. But replacements are there -- one such, mentioned by a knowledgeable source recently is Dave Healey, who presently heads the Pinellas Planning Commission.
The running gunfight with the county was underlined by a county representative arguing that the city's plan to annex an area called Bay Vista was unlawful in some respects.
Mike Staffopolous, the city's Community Development Director, an engineer, forthrightly and pertinently answered each question raised.
The annexation was approved, 7-0.
The ongoing strife in the city was highlighted during the discussion on the ordinance known by the short hand name of the "big box" law, relating to limiting the sizes of retail outlets.
Black said she wanted to postpone action. Gerard couldn't get on record fast enough to say, "this needs to be passed tonight." Of course, if Black says red, Gerard will say blue.
Black asserted that state law required that changes in the ordinance be underlined. Stanton said he did not know the law. Black said that he was supposed to know the law.
Tammi Bach, assistant city attorney sitting in for the absent Alan Zimmet, said that as far as she was concerned the ordinance as drafted was in conformance with the law.
Then there was the emotional diatribe by J.B. Butler directed at Jackson given during citizen comments. He has circulated a verbose letter that seems to be saying that Jackson is trying to mount a coup to take over the city.
The gist of Butler's rambling letter was that Jackson inappropriately spoke at the Charter Review Committee (of which Butler is a talkative member) meeting August 10.
Jackson apologized for his statement saying, "I just had to defend myself against a personal attack."
One observer commented, "It won't take much now to put J.B. over the edge. I hope they have a nice room picked out for him."
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