LARGO -- The question of whether the 4-3 vote to give City Manager Steve Stanton a 4 percent raise August 16 was sufficient was raised at Tuesday night's work shop meeting.
Commissioner Mary Black raised the issue. She is of the opinion that the language in the city charter -- "The City Commission shall, by a vote of not less than five of its members, appoint a City Manager and fix his compensation . . ." -- controlled.
Mayor Bob Jackson, who had sent the day going to Orlando and back, said that in his experience five votes were always thought necessary to give a raise. He added that Tammi Bach, the assistant city attorney, sitting in at last week's meeting, agreed that five votes were necessary.
Commissioner Gay Gentry missed the point entirely and went off on a sail around the lagoon, huffing and puffing and trying (and pathetically failing) to sound like a legal expert.
Jackson pointed out that Alan Zimmet, the city attorney, could not properly give an opinion because he has a conflict of interest. He would be ruling on the issue of a raise for the man he works for.
Jackson suggested having John Hubbard, well known Pinellas County municipal attorney, be engaged to give an opinion.
Some observers feel that the question should more properly go to the Circuit Court for interpretation.
The Clearwater Gazette & Beach Views reported that five votes were necessary and that the vote on the Stanton raise last week failed.
The commission heard the results of a consultant's $30,000 study on the re-use of the old library building at Tuesday's workshop meeting.
Ginger Corless, president of Herbert Halback, Inc., the consultant which conducted the study, was supposed to give the presentation but turned up sick.
An assistant to Corless gave the findings and presentation with Corless tuned in on a speaker phone. HHI actually completed its study in May and subsequently submitted it to the commission.
Bottom line, the recommendation listed some choices -- an arts and science educational center, multi-purpose use, a commercial, retail village, and charter school owned and operated by the city. Multi-purpose got the primary nod.
Several entities have already indicated an interest in using all or part of the building. Among them are Schiller International University which is located in Dunedin; School of the Suncoast, kindergarten through eighth grade private school; Suncoast Model Railway Club, and Miniature Art Society of Florida.
St. Petersburg College had an idea for a prosthetics school at the site and a presentation was made by the college's president, Carl Kuttler, to the commission. It was not received favorably, Kuttler withdrew the idea, and the city lost the opportunity for significant use of the building.
Commissioner Pat Gerard, unlike most of the other members of the commission at the August 16 meeting, who wanted to set a date and hear all proposals, had her mind made up. In short, she did not want to be confused by facts, preferring to allow the old building to be used for artsy-craftsy activities, which seem to be her obsession. Understandable, perhaps, for one who lives in an exclusive, gated community.
A problem with the arts conception is that plebeian Largo just is not much of an arts community like, say Dunedin, which has attracted a totally different demographic profile. This is a profile Gerard, like some others, has promoted for Largo but so far has been very demonstrably rejected.
The commissioners blathered on at length and finally came up with the idea of emphasizing arts -- an attraction for those who don't live in Largo, apparently, which is notable for its lack of interest in that area. Thus, high blown ideas on the commission to be force fed to the droopy-drawers citizens of the city.
In the final analysis, Commissioner Harriet Crozier persuaded her colleagues to have Steve Stanton, the city manager, put together a recommendation paper, discuss that, and get input from the public at large.
Approved at the work session was the re-design and rehabilitation of the Military Court of Honor in Central Park.
This will be done at no cost to the city. While there is a steady flow of dollars into the Parks and Recreation Department, the Cultural Center and the Library, this project is being done on the cheap with $11,100 from a fund raiser and $198,400 from a federal grant. So much for "support our troops" for those who have served or fallen.
The Court of Honor has been used as a playground for skating kids who find no problem in using a memorial as a skating site, thereby contributing to the deterioration and ruin of the site.
Work will begin in November and is expected to be completed by next Memorial Day.
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